William Paxton (1869–1941)
The Other Door, 1917
Oil on canvas, 40 1/8 x 30 1/2 in.
Signed lower right: PAXTON
Provenance: estate of the artist; Vose Galleries, Boston, Massachusetts; Stephen D'Ambrosio, 1975 (acquired from the above); Hirschl & Adler Galleries, New York; Sotheby's, New York, December 3, 1987, lot 235, illustrated; A. Alfred Taubman, New York
Exhibited: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Carnegie Institute, n.d.; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 113th Annual Exhibition, February-March 1918, no. 93; Boston, Massachusetts, Guild of Boston Artists, 4th General Spring Exhibition, May 1918; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, The Rosenbach Company, Paintings by William M. Paxton, October-November 1918, no. 15; Boston, Massachusetts, Guild of Boston Artists, Exhibition of Paintings by William McGregor Paxton, 1919, no. 4; New York, Folsom Galleries, Exhibition of Paintings by William McGregor Paxton, January-March 1919, no. 4; Boston, Massachusetts, Museum of Fine Arts, Exhibition of Works by Boston Artists under the auspices of the Copley Society, March-April 1920, no. 80; Cincinnati, Ohio, Cincinnati Art Museum, 28th Annual Exhibition, May-July 1921, no. 20; New York, The Ferargil Galleries, Paintings by Alexander Bower and William Paxton, December 1921; New York, National Academy of Design, 99th Annual Exhibition, March-April 1924, no. 128, illustrated; New York, The Ferargil Galleries, William M. Paxton, April 1926; Detroit, Michigan, Detroit Institute of Arts, 12th Annual Exhibition of American Art, April-May 1926, no. 89; Boston, Massachusetts, Museum of Fine Arts, William McGregor Paxton, N.A., Memorial Exhibition of Paintings, November-December 1941, no. 48; Maryhill, Washington, Maryhill Museum of Fine Arts, Paintings by William M. Paxton, July-August 1960; New York, Graham Gallery, William Paxton, January-February 1967, no. 17; Indianapolis, Indiana, Indianapolis Institute of Art (and traveling), William McGregor Paxton 1869-1941, August 1978-May 1979 [catalogue 129 (illustrated), 137, no. 45]; New York, Berry-Hill Galleries; Stony Brook, New York, The Museums at Stony Brook, Parodies of the American Masters: Rediscovering the Society of American Fakirs, 1891-1914, September 1993-June 1994 [catalogue 28 (illustrated), no. 17B]; Southfield, Michigan, Lawrence Technological University, Selections from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. A. Alfred Taubman, April 2011, illustrated in color n.p.
Literature: Frederick W. Coburn, Boston Herald, May 5, 1918; William Howe Downes, Boston Evening Transcript, January 21, 1919; American Art News, vol. XVII, no. 19, February 15, 1919, 3; New York Herald, February 16, 1919; American Magazine of Art, vol. XI, no. 7, May 2, 1920, 244; American Art News, vol. XX, no. 9, December 10, 1921, 2; "The Week in City Art Galleries," The New York Times, April 11, 1926, section 8, 12.
Paxton’s paintings are characterized by their softness and luminosity and attest to his particular interest in the art of Johannes Vermeer. The Other Door presents a more simplified composition than is commonly seen in Paxton’s work. A single woman, wearing a flowing pink and gold dress, grasps the knob of a door, which is just slightly ajar, revealing a tantalizing view into another light-filled room. She pushes back her long blond hair, and her eyes stare off in the distance, as she listens to something on the other side of the door. Paxton has paid great attention to the drapery of her dress and the ornate pattern on the chair in the foreground. The interior is otherwise simple, with cream colored walls and doors. Typical of Paxton’s work is the soft focus of the piece, which is balanced by his attention to detail.