IRVING RAMSEY WILES1861-1948
Irving Ramsay Wiles was one of the most successful portrait painters in the United States during the first quarter of the 20th Century. Wiles was born in Utica, New York in 1861. He was educated at the Sedgwick Institute in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, where he prepared for a career in medicine. He was also an accomplished violinist. At the age of seventeen, however, he began to study art with his father, landscape painter Lemuel Maynard Wiles, in his Washington Square studio and at his father’s Silver Lake Art School in the summers. From 1879 to 1882 he studied at the Art Students League in New York City with Thomas W. Dewing, James Carroll Beckwith and William Merritt Chase. Chase not only greatly influenced his style, but became a close friend. Wiles studied from 1882 to 1884 in Paris at the Académie Julian with Jules Lefebvre and Gustave Boulanger, and with the expressionistic portrait painter Carolus-Duran, who also taught John Singer Sargent. During his time in Paris Wiles also took night classes at the Académie Colarossi. Returning to New York in 1884, Wiles established a studio on Washington Square, and taught painting at the Art Students League and the Chase School of Art. From 1884 to the mid-1890s, an important source of income was provided by the hundreds of watercolor, wash, and pen and ink illustrations the artist produced for Century, Harper’s, and Scribner’s magazines. In 1889 Wiles was elected an associate member of the National Academy of Design. Irving and his father established the Wiles Summer Art School in Peconic on the North Fork of Long Island in 1895, and taught classes there together. Wiles treated a wide variety of subjects, including landscape, cityscape, animal, floral, and marine, in various media, but concentrated mainly on figure and portrait work in oils after 1897. He is best known for his portraits of fashionable and socially prominent women and representations of the female form as an expression of ideal beauty. His style is marked by dexterity of brushwork and animated renderings of his sitters. In 1898 Irving bought a cottage in Peconic and built a studio there. He spent summers there until his death in 1948 at age eighty-seven. Wiles’ paintings were exhibited widely nationally and internationally, and won numerous prizes and medals, including gold medals at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo in 1901; the St. Louis Exposition, 1904; the Buenos Aires Exposition, 1910; and the Pan-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco in 1915. His works are represented in major collections in the United States and in Europe.