William McGregor Paxton
Wars and Conflicts:
Oil on canvas
H x W: 60 in. / 240 in.(5 ft. /20 ft.)
The Army and Navy Club
From 1913: The Army and Navy Club
The matching murals at the opposite ends of The Army and Navy Club dining room were executed in 1913 and 1914 by the eminent Boston Artist William McGregor Paxton. Paxton won the Club’s 1912 design competition and was commissioned to produce the two panels. The murals are considered superb examples of Paxton’s decorative art.
Primarily a portraitist, Paxton is most honored for his paintings of American Presidents Grover Cleveland and Calvin Coolidge. He studied with Claude Monet in Paris, and his works are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and the National Gallery of Art, among others.
The allegorical themes in the murals depict Neptune entertaining an American sailor and Mars in friendly discourse with an American soldier. Paxton chose to depict a mid-19th century sailor and a soldier of the Mexican War, so “the contrast between the modern and the mythological will not be too sharp.”
The Paxton Murals are the only example of such work produced by the artist in his prolific 55-year career. The contract provided for approval of the design sketches by the Club’s Building Committee and Hornblower & Marshall architects of the then-new building. During the 1984-1987 reconstruction and renovation of The Army and Navy Club building, the murals were carefully removed from the walls and conserved by Charles Olin. Olin, a preeminent conservator of American art, also conserved the Gettysburg Cyclorama, among other projects. His son, David, continues the conservation firm to this day. Upon completion of the conservation and building renovation, the Paxton murals were reassembled on the current walls of the Club’s dining room.