William B. P. Closson (1848 - 1926)
Preparing for the Pageant, c. 1915
Oil on board
20 x 16 inches
Signed at lower right: Wm Baxter Closson
Inscribed verso: Preparing for the Pageant / by WB Closson
Period Newcomb-Macklin frame
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts, inventory number 38.1841
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, American Paintings in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue, 1997, p. 47.
Born in Thetford, Vermont, William Closson studied painting at the Thetford Academy and the Lowell Institute in Boston. Closson went on to study the art of engraving, and went to Europe from 1881 to 1883 to engrave works for Harpers. While in Europe, Closson exhibited at the Paris Salon, and was awarded a third class medal for his engravings in 1882.
Back in the United States, Closson had studios in Newton and Magnolia, Massachusetts. He lived and painted in Washington, D.C. from 1907 to 1917, and was part of a group of artists working in a Symbolist mode (Gerdts, Art Across America, vol 1, p. 357). Closson exhibited regularly at the Boston Arts Club, as well as at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Corcoran Biennials, amongst other venues. He also was a member of numerous art societies, including the Boston Arts Club, the Copley Society, Allied Artists of America, and the Connecticut Academy of Fine Arts.
Closson painted with a typically vibrant, high keyed palette, and focused on effects of light and texture over precise detail. His paintings often feature fashionable women in outdoor settings, as in the present work. Preparing for the Pageant depicts a group of lithe women in colorful dresses seemingly floating down a grassy hill. The ethereal qualities of the scene can be connected to Closson’s interest in Symbolism. Closson’s Impressionist brushwork captures the dappled sunlight, bright colors and festive air of the scene. Closson created a similar mood and airy effect his painting Tree-Day Guests at Wellesley College, also formerly in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.