William McGregor Paxton attended Cowles Art School, Acadamie Julian (1889-90, 92) and Ecole Des Beaux Arts, where he studied under the painter Gerome. Paxton was an integral part of the Boston School, a group of painters that included Tarbell, Benson and Hale. He was well known for his extraordinary attention to the effects of light and detail in flesh and fabric. Paxton's compositions were most often idealized young women in beautiful interiors.
Paxton gained fame for his portraiture and painted both Grover Cleveland and Calvin Coolidge. He taught at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts School from 1906 to 1913. His highly finished surfaces, painted in the Beaux Arts manner, seemed to emphasize material surroundings and Paxton had been criticized for imitating the superficiality of the high class. Paxton was made a full member of the Nation Academy of Design in 1928.