Edward Gay was a landscape painter who really didn't fit into any particular category or school. He learned technique from several artists with whom he studied, but was not markedly influenced by them. His paintings depicted what he saw - no more, no less. He did not romanticize or idealize.
Born in Ireland in 1837, Gay came to America with his parents in 1848 in the wake of the Potato Famine. They settled in Albany, New York. He had to go to work as a boy, but showed a talent for drawing. Encouraged by the Hart brothers and George Boughton, all successful local painters, he began to study with them. In 1862, at the urging of the Harts, he went to Karlsruhe, Germany to continue his studies under Johann Wilhelm Schirmer and Karl Friedrich Lessing, both conventional historical painters. Although he learned much, Gay felt he was wasting his time.
When he returned to the United States in 1864, he began painting the large landscapes which were in vogue. Three years later, with his wife and growing family, he moved to Mount Vernon, just north of New York City. The area was open farmland, with sunny meadows and orchards stretching along Long Island Sound. These were the scenes that Gay painted for much of his life.
In 1905, he built a summer home at Cragsmoor in upstate New York and painted there, as well as on frequent trips to Europe. It was for his paintings of the rivers, fields and shores near Mount Vernon, where he died in 1928, however, that he was best known.
National Academy of Design
New York Water Color Club
Layton School of Art, Milwaukee
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City
Minnesota Museum of Art, St. Paul
Mount Vernon Public Library, New York