Announcing “Impressions of Interiors: Gilded Age Paintings by Walter Gay,” curated by Isabel Taube

Beginning early next month, the Frick Art & Historical Center in Pittsburgh will open the exhibition Impressions of Interiors: Gilded Age Paintings by Walter Gay, curated by art historian and VCS faculty member Isabel Taube. The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue published by D. Giles Limited that includes Isabel’s essay “Walter Gay’s Poetic Rooms,” along with contributions by art dealer and collector Priscilla Vail Caldwell, arts expert and curator Nina Gray, and Frick Director of Curatorial Affairs Sarah Hall. The exhibition will run from October 6, 2012 to January 6, 2013, after which it will move to The Henry Morrison Flagler Museum in Palm Beach, Florida, where it will be on display from January 29 to April 23, 2013.

Here is a little more information about Walter Gray and Impressions of Interiors, quoted from the Frick website:

American artist Walter Gay (1856–1937) specialized in painting views of opulent residential interiors in late-19th and early-20th-century America and Europe. John Singer Sargent, Gay’s nearly exact contemporary, is well known for painting the sumptuous clothing and jewels of American society in his fashionable portraits.

Walter Gay, in contrast, painted society’s rooms—with their silk wall coverings, ornate paneling, 18th-century French furniture, tapestries, and sculptures—arranged in the private spaces of what were often legendary residences.

Impressions of Interiors: Gilded Age Paintings by Walter Gay will present a comprehensive exploration of Walter Gay’s depictions of elaborately decorated, European and American domestic interiors, painted from the mid-1890s to the early 1930s.

These paintings serve as documents of the collecting, decorating habits, and taste of Gay and his patrons, and also as mirrors of their attitudes towards the past. Helen Clay Frick, like many of her contemporaries, sought out Walter Gay to record the “spirit” of the spaces in what was then her family home, now The Frick Collection. The three resulting paintings are part of the collection at the Frick Art & Historical Center, and provide the inspiration and foundation for this reexamination of Walter Gay’s work.

On October 6, Isabel will participate in the panel discussion Walter Gay and “the Spirit of Empty Rooms” at the Frick, moderated by Frick Director Bill Bodine and featuring catalogue contributors Priscilla Caldwell and Nina Gray and Frick Director of Curatorial Affairs Sarah Hall.

For more details on the exhibition, panel discussion, and catalogue, visit the future exhibitions page on the Frick Art & Historical Center website. You can also learn more about Walter Gay and see images of some of his works at the following links:

Finally, on November 6, Isabel will give a talk titled Walter Gay and Edith Wharton: Their Friendship and Aesthetics at The Mount, Wharton’s recently restored home in Lenox, Massachusetts. The talk will focus on the Walter and Matilda’s Gay’s close friendship with Wharton, and the influence that her ideas on interior decoration had on his art.

Visual & Critical Studies