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Picturing a World

Renicks’ vestibule

While I was imagining Jeanette’s painting of a vestibule in the Renicks’ house—the one Carolus-Duran commends and is accepted for the Salon—I had in mind the work of Walter Gay. During my research, I read about him and his wife, Matilda in A Charmed Couple by William Rieder.

What a pleasant life they led! He was born in Hingham, Massachusetts, to a prosperous family. She was the daughter of a Wall Street financier who summered in Newport, Rhode Island. They never had money troubles; they had apartments and studios in Paris, a château in the country; he enjoyed steady artistic success; they knew everyone. She had been a childhood friend of Edith Wharton and continued the friendship in France. The Gays’ social circle included, among many others, John Singer Sargent and his cousin Ralph Curtis, Henry James, Henry Adams, Bernard Berenson, and Nélie Jacquemart André. It would have taken too much explaining to work them into the novel, but I like to think they would have accepted an invitation to Cornelia’s garden party!

For more of Gay’s interiors, click here.

For his painting in the context of other artists’ renderings of empty rooms, click here.

For a piece connected with the 2012–2013 show Impressions of Interiors: Gilded Age Paintings, click here and blog spot here. For a substantial review of the catalogue, click here. And, finally, for still more images, click here.
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