A "Tarbellite" of the Boston School of painters, William McGregor Paxton would make his own name as an important and remarkably popular portrait painter. He is frequently seen as an important bridge between the best painters of the nineteenth century and the survival of their techniques into the next generations of painters.
Born in Baltimore in 1869, he began his formal education at the Boston Museum School of Fine Arts, where he studied with Tarbell. He then studied at the Cowles Art School, also in Boston. From there he traveled to Paris where he studied under Jean Leon Gerome at the Academie Julian. From his teachers he gained a firm understanding and mastery of the figure. When he returned to Boston he studied again at the Cowles Art School but this time with Joseph DeCamp, who helped him to master the art of interiors.
He painted portraits for a time in Philadelphia and then settled in Boston, along with his wife. He taught at the Boston Museum School from 1906 to 1913, and continued painting until the time of his death in 1941. In fact he was painting a portrait of his wife when he suffered a fatal heart attack at the age of seventy-two.
He exhibited widely throughout his life, and became a member or associate of the most prestigious organization of the day. His works can be found in many important collections, including the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Cleveland Museum of Art.