Christopher Gray was born in Milton, Massachusetts, June 22, 1915. Gray studied physics at Harvard, obtaining a B.S. degree in 1937. He earned a master's degree in fine arts from the University of California at Berkeley in 1941. During World War II, Gray worked as an associate in the Radio Research Laboratory, Harvard University, where research centered on radar countermeasures. After his wartime service, Gray returned to academic classes at Harvard and received his Ph.D. in 1951 in the History of Art.
In June 1947, The Johns Hopkins University announced the creation of a fine arts department with Dr. Richard Howland at its head. At the same time, it was announced that Christopher Gray, then an assistant in the Department of Fine Arts at Harvard, would join the new department as instructor in fine arts. Dr. Gray was appointed associate professor in 1963 and remained at Hopkins until his retirement in 1969. At Hopkins, Dr. Gray taught classes in all styles and periods of Art including Renaissance, Baroque and Modern.
A part of Dr Gray's writings and research reflected the unique combination of scientist and art historian. In 1957, he published "A Re-evaluation of Luneberg's Hypothesis of Binocular Vision" in the Journal of the Optical Society of America. In this article, he offered an original hypothesis for understanding perspective in modern art. In 1959, he published "Cézanne's Use of Perspective" in the College Art Journal which applied his scientific study of binocular vision to the work of the painter. In 1955, Gray obtained a patent for a light-meter that could register light where no other meter would operate. Dr. Gray used this instrument to take 700 color slides for the art department at Hopkins.
Dr. Gray's ideas and efforts contributed to the foundation of the Department of Fine Arts at Hopkins. He served as acting chairman of the department, 1956-1958, and again in 1964-1965. He acted as advisor to undergraduates, and began an outreach to museums in the Baltimore area. He was interested in the acquisition of technical equipment (cameras, light-meters, projectors) for the department, and he argued for a commitment to a library budget for books to support the expanding department. In a departmental report for 1965, he described the status of the department as well as a vision for its growth.
As an art historian, Gray specialized in the work of the impressionists and post-impressionists. In 1963, he published Sculpture and Ceramics of Paul Gauguin, a chronology and catalog of Gauguin's work in France and the South Seas. A second major undertaking was begun on the life and works of Armand Guillaumin. Gray pursued the study of both artists rigorously, searching out museums, galleries, and private collectors worldwide. He amassed a large collection of photographs which were used to illustrate both volumes. Christopher Gray died in May 1970 before the publication of Armand Guillaumin. Dr. Gray's wife, Mrs. Alice Darling Gray, assumed the work of overseeing the publication of the manuscript both in the United States and Italy.