William Reider's eloquent and touching account of the lives of Walter and Matilda Gay (A Charmed Couple, New York, 2000) is not about Walter Gay's art, which had been well covered in Gary Reynolds' 1980 exhibition catalogue, but primarily deals with their fascinating and fashionable life in France, and includes various exerpts from their diaries. The Gays were deeply entrenched in the haute société, and their friends included the Sommiers at Vaux-le-Vicomte and the Ganays at Courances, as well as their compatriots John Singer Sargent, Elsie de Wolfe and Henry Clay Frick. Walter Gay's beautifully painted interiors demonstrate their passion for old houses and profound interest in works of art including French furniture, sculpture, tapestries, mounted porcelain, old master paintings and drawings.
This interior depicts the elegant salon at the château de Fortoiseau, which they rented from Baron d'Astier de la Vigerie from 1895 until 1904. Gay executed various versions of the salon, but the present view shows more of the room than the two interiors illustrated by Reider, which mainly focus on the chimneypiece and the Imari vases surmounting it (op. cit., figs. 26-27, pp. 26-27).