Girl Sweeping
Girl Sweeping
Girl Sweeping
Girl Sweeping
Girl Sweeping
Girl Sweeping
Girl Sweeping
Girl Sweeping

Girl Sweeping

William McGregor Paxton (American, 1869-1941)

Not Currently on View
Image Licensing

Paxton, who was known for his fine draftsmanship, uses diffused light to soften contours in a manner similar to Impressionism.

His favorite subjects were female figures posed in elegant interiors.

Paxton was a member of the Boston School that flourished during the early 20th century.

  • Paxton used diffuse light to subtly soften the forms in this scene. This effect appealed to Americans in the early twentieth century, who had become accustomed to the less rigid contours and textures of Impressionism. At the heart of his style, however, is a firm sense of composition and drawing, traits he learned through his study with the French academic painter Jean-Léon Gérôme.
  • Paxton’s signature subject matter, typical of the Boston School, was a leisure-class woman isolated in a well-appointed interior with elegant furniture and porcelains. In this painting, however, he chooses a behind-the-scenes view of a housekeeper engaged in maintaining such an interior. Despite the change in subject, Paxton does not abandon the mood of quiet introspection that characterizes his work.

Curatorial Summary

William Paxton grew up in Newton, Massachusetts, and studied in Boston at the Cowles School and in Paris at the École des Beaux-Arts. His primary influence, especially for his figure studies, was the 17th-century Dutch master Johannes Vermeer. In addition to his easel painting, Paxton was a muralist, lithographer, and etcher with studios in Boston, East Gloucester, and Provincetown. He was elected full member of the prestigious National Academy of Design in 1928. Paxton was equally famous for his portraiture and figure studies of upper-class women at leisure.

Girl Sweeping is characteristic of Paxton’s women in elegant settings and is a smaller version of a painting of the same title executed in 1912. The paintings are similar except for a rearrangement of furniture and the addition of the cap in the smaller version, which more readily defines the figure as a servant. It is not unusual for Paxton to depict servants, since they were so much a part of upper-class life.


Lee, Ellen Wardwell, R.H. Ives Gammel, and Martin F. Krause, Jr. William McGregor Paxton, 1869-1941: Member of the National Academy. Indianapolis: Indianapolis Museum of Art, 1979.

(Hirschl and Adler Galleries New York);
(Sloan and Roman Gallery, New York);
purchased by Mrs. Harry Mallinson in 1971;
donated to the Indianapolis, in 2004 (2004.87).

Object Information

William McGregor Paxton (American, 1869-1941)
creation date
about 1912
oil on canvas board
17-1/4 x 14-1/2 in. (canvas board)
25-1/4 x 22-1/4 in. (framed)
mark descriptions
signed in graphite, verso of the canvas board's paper backing: PAXTON BOSTON | original carved gilt frame, signed by Walfred Thulin 1913 # 99
accession number
credit line
Gift of Susan K. Mallinson
Public Domain
American Painting and Sculpture to 1945

You May Also Like