Born in Hingham, Massachusetts, Walter Gay became a painter who specialized in interiors, particularly those of eighteenth-century French buildings. His style was traditional, and he ignored the influences of modernist paintings he saw while studying in Paris beginning 1876. He remained in Europe the rest of his life.
In his compositions, the rooms are nearly always devoid of human presence but suggest that someone has been there. Many of his interiors are museum settings, and although he was not an impressionist, his work often had atmospheric effects.
When Gay died in 1937, he was described in The New York Times as the "Dean of American Painters in France," where he and his Matilda moved in 1876. His first painti
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