At Auctionc. 1920Oil on canvas35 × 40U-5584.2009University of Nebraska–Lincoln, gift of Carl and Jane Rohman, through the University of Nebraska Foundation
Elizabeth Vaughan Okie PaxtonElizabeth Paxton often specialized in still-lifes depicting breakfast trays in domestic interiors, cluttered yet carefully arranged curios, and window displays—all subjects typically described as feminine. In this painting, the artist created a dizzying catalog of exquisite and exotic items up for sale. At the turn of the century, Americans perceived department stores and the shopping they encouraged as a female realm of influence within an increasingly consumer-driven economy, a sphere that provided opportunities for independence and authority over the American home. In its own way, At Auction suggests that economic autonomy and aesthetic discrimination—in this case, on the auction-house floor—were important ingredients of a woman’s consumerist activities.
18771971Newton, MAProvidence, RI