Winckworth Allan Gay was born in 1821 in West Hingham, Massachusetts, and was known primarily as a landscape painter. He studied under Robert W. Weir at West Point in 1838, and Constant Troyon in Paris from 1847-51, training in the French and English landscape tradition.

In addition to being one of the first Americans to study in Paris, Gay was one of the first Americans to be influenced by the French Barbizon style. He was also strongly influenced by Alfred T. Bricher and John F. Kensett, apparent in his tight brushwork and precise style. His luminist qualities and New England and European landscapes led to his popularity with Boston collectors. He established a studio in Boston in 1851 just after returning from his first period of studying abroad.
He was a frequent traveler and went often to the White Mountains of New Hampshire with the artist Benjamin Champney, his friend and traveling companion. Champney was to later make North Conway his home, but Gay became more closely associated with the Franconia Notch area. He often stayed at the Stag and Hounds Inn in Campton Village with artists such as Asher Durand, Samuel Gerry, Samuel Griggs, and George Loring Brown.

In 1873 Gay traveled to Europe and to Egypt, and in 1877 auctioned 112 of his paintings to fund an 1877-81 trip to Japan and China. He was the first American to reside in Japan, and lived there for four years, spending time in Kamakura, Yokohama, Tokyo, Kyoto, Homoko, and Inoshima. Upon returning to Boston, he exhibited his scenic paintings of canals, temples, and old castles from his travels.

Gay exhibited his work at the Brooklyn Art Association in 1872 and 1879; at the Boston Art Club, 1873-1877; at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts; and at the National Academy of Design in 1869 and 1875. Artworks by Gay can be found nationally in private and public collections including the Boston Athenaeum, Brooklyn Museum, Hingham Historical Society, and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

Gay stopped painting in 1890 and died in his hometown of West Hingham, Massachusetts in 1910. His works were described in 1861 by Henry Tuckerman in his Book of Artists as expressions of “truth, beauty, and grandeur” that were comparable to the writings of Hawthorne, Thoreau, Emerson, and Dana.


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