Walter Gay

born Hingham, MA 1856-died Breau, France 1937
Media - gay_walter.jpg - 90006
Image is courtesy of the Photographs of artists in their Paris studios, 1880-1890 in the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Also known as
  • Walter J. Gay
Hingham, Massachusetts, United States
Breau, France
Active in
  • Paris, France
  • American

An expatriate who left Boston for Brittany, Gay began his career with genre scenes from eighteenth-century life, shifting in 1884 to the kind of realistic peasant picture seen in Novembre Étaples [SAAM, 1977.111]. He ultimately abandoned that subject matter as well, devoting himself in the last decades of his life to the elegant interiors that surrounded him in his château and in his Paris apartment.

Elizabeth Prelinger The Gilded Age: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum (New York and Washington, D.C.: Watson-Guptill Publications, in cooperation with the Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2000)

Luce Artist Biography

Walter Gay was born into an old New England family and spent most of his adult life in Paris, as did many American artists of his generation. He married the wealthy American expatriate Matilda Travers in London, and when they returned to Paris, her fortune provided the couple with a comfortable life. The Gays divided their time between their country homes and their Paris apartment, all meticulously decorated and filled with collections of old-master drawings and French decorative arts. (Caldwell, Walter Gay: Poems d’Intérieurs, 2003)


An artwork image of a woman
Sargent, Whistler, and Venetian Glass: American Artists and the Magic of Murano 
October 8, 2021May 8, 2022
This exhibition brings to life the Venetian glass revival of the nineteenth century on the famed island of Murano and the artistic experimentation the city inspired for artists such as John Singer Sargent and James McNeill Whistler.