Skip to content

A Boy of the Boston School

Under the heading of Coming Distractions…


You are heartily invited to a talk I’m giving at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston next Wednesday evening (April 9) at 7 p.m.

The boy in the title is me.  The Boston School refers to the painting orthodoxy that held firm in these parts for nearly half a century after modernism “arrived” with the Armory Show of 1913. 

When the museum asked me to talk about growing up under the MFA influence, I leapt at the chance because I’d been introspecting idly for a long time on imagery and taste, how we learn (or don’t) our expressive possibilities, how the Boston of my boyhood got so stuck in the past, and why those Sargents and many lesser Back Bay Vermeers have come to look so stylish and, yes, beautiful after all.

“Still Life”

The late Elizabeth Paxton–student, model and wife of William McGregor Paxton, a pillar of the Boston School–was a family friend and a woman of authority and immense fascination when we were growing up.  She reemerged a couple of years ago as a star of the marvelous MFA show “A Studio of Her Own.”  And I wanted especially to remember and reexamine my devotion to her.


So please come if you’re on for thinking out loud about the pictures in my head–and yours, too.



{ 4 } Comments

  1. Anonymous | April 8, 2003 at 12:25 am | Permalink

    Would you mind publishing any kind of transcript or recording of the talk? Many of us will not be able to come in person, but are certainly intrigued and would really like to know what the audience of the talk will be able to experience first hand. Please share.
    Thank you…

  2. Anonymous | May 6, 2004 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    I was searching for information about William McGregor Paxton via Google and that’s how I found your website. I too would like to hear or read your speech.

  3. zxevil137 | March 3, 2008 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    TuNNVQ r u crazzy? I told u! I can’t read!

  4. Medical Research | January 16, 2012 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    I’m extremely impressed with your writing skills and also with the layout on your blog. Is this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself? Anyway keep up the nice quality writing, it’s rare to see a nice blog like this one nowadays..