Like many of his Gilded Age contemporaries, Paxton often painted women in well-appointed interiors. In this case, however, the artist's subject is not the mistress of the home but rather a member of the household staff absorbed in a book discovered during the course of her duties. Influenced by the city's fine museum collections, Paxton and other Boston School artists such as Frank Benson and Edmund Tarbell shared an interest in the 17th century painter Jan Vermeer. The maid's trance-like state, the painting's strong lighting, and the precisely painted still life on the game table all recall the work of the Dutch artist, as does the sense of mystery evoked by the open book of personal correspondence.
Oil on canvas