Tea Leaves

Artist: William McGregor Paxton (American, Baltimore, Maryland 1869–1941 Boston, Massachusetts)

Date: 1909

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 36 1/8 x 28 3/4 in. (91.6 x 71.9 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Gift of George A. Hearn, 1910

Accession Number: 10.64.8


Paxton often depicted refined women—such as his patrons’ wives and daughters—at leisure in handsome Boston interiors of the sort they would have decorated and occupied. By equating women with the precious aesthetic trappings that surrounded them, Paxton echoed the spirit of the novelist Henry James, who portrayed women as collectible objects in novels such as Portrait of a Lady (1881). Paxton’s restrained palette and precise rendering of figures and setting here and elsewhere allied him to the academic tradition of his Parisian teacher, Jean-Léon Gérôme.