Charles De Kay attended a military academy in Connecticut, then Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, where he graduated in 1868.
Charles De Kay wrote poetry and critical pieces on art for numerous magazines and newspapers, joining the staff of The New York Times in 1876. He worked for that paper as literary editor, art editor and editorial writer until 1894, when President Grover Cleveland appointed him consul general to Berlin.
On his return to the United States after three years Charles DeKay became associate editor of Art World. He continued writing for periodicals, translated and wrote several books and was a regular contributor to The New York Times Book Review until he became ill in 1928.
In 1882 he founded the Authors Club, in 1892 the National Sculpture Society, and in 1899 the National Arts Club, for which he served many years as managing director.
A member of the Century Club, the New York Historical Society and the National Institute of Arts and Letters.
Quotes from others about the person
Of his criticism, Jonathan Creek wrote in Camera Work: "His assessments of photography and modem art were very guarded in tone and almost always flippant in style."