William McGregor Paxton (1869-1941)

William Paxton works on an outdoor portrait in this photograph from the collection of the Smithsonian Institution.

In the mid-1870s, the Paxton family came to Newton Corner, where William's father James established himself as a caterer. At 18, William won a scholarship to attend the Cowles Art School, where he began his art studies with Dennis Bunker. Later he studied with Gérõme in Paris and, on his return to Boston, with Joseph DeCamp at Cowles. There he met his future wife Elizabeth Okie, who also was studying with DeCamp. After their marriage, William and Elizabeth lived with his parents at 43 Elmwood Street, and later bought a house at 19 Montvale Road in Newton Centre.

Paxton, who is best known as a portrait painter, taught at the Museum School from 1906 to 1913. Along with other well known artists of the era, including Edmund Tarbell and Frank Benson, he is identified with the Boston School.

Paxton was working on his last painting, a view of his living room at 19 Montvale Road, with his wife posing for him, when he was stricken with a heart attack and died.

Image courtesy of the William McGregor Paxton papers, 1886-1971 at the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.