"A Society Matron"
Irving Ramsey Wiles (1861-1948)
This portrait is of a woman sitting forward with her gaze directed towards the viewer.
She wears a white off-the-shoulder dress adorned with a gold brooch along the neckline.
This portrait painting is oil on canvas and measures 22 inches wide by 26 inches tall and is signed in the upper right corner. Painted in the first decade of 1900.
In the frame this portrait oil painting measures 28 inches wide by 32 inches tall.
Provenance: Formerly in the collection of an Anonymous Collection, Winston-Salem, North Carolina late 20th C.
The portrait was formerly thought to be Helen Wallace McEachin, who died in Greensboro, Alabama. But this was later determined to be not the case. The identity of the sitter is unknown.
The son of artist Lemuel Maynard Wiles, Irving R. Wiles became one of the most celebrated portrait painters of America's Gilded Age.
Though he created many beautiful landscape paintings and watercolors, he is perhaps best remembered as a portraitist.
Among his clients were Theodore Roosevelt, William Jennings Bryant, Mrs. Edward Redfield, and actress Julia Marlowe, whose portrait was said to have caused as much of a sensation as its subject.
Born in Utica, New York and educated at Sedgwick Academy in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, Wiles originally considered becoming a professional violinist.
He studied art as a teenager with his father, and had his first exhibition at the National Academy of Design at the age of eighteen.
He went on to study at the Art Students' League with James Carroll Beckwith and William Merritt Chase.
He developed an enduring friendship with Chase, who chose Wiles to complete the portrait commissions left unfinished at the time of Chase's death; Wiles was widely considered to be Chase's successor.
Wiles also studied in Paris with Carolus-Duran, whose dramatic influence in many of his portraits is visible, and at the Academie Julian with Jules Lefebvre and Gustave Boulanger.
On his return to New York in 1884, Wiles made illustrations for Century, Harper's, and Scribner's magazines.
He taught at his studio and at his father's Silver Lake Art School in New York.
He participated in many exhibitions, among them shows at the Paris Salons, the Society of American Artists, Brooklyn Art Association, Corcoran Gallery, Newport Art Association, Boston Art Club, the American Water Color Society, and the National Academy of Design, where he received the Hallgarten Prize and was elected a full member in 1897.
He was also a frequent exhibitor at national expositions such as the 1893 Columbian, the St. Louis Exposition (1904), the Paris Expositions of 1889 and 1900; the Appalachian Exposition (1910); Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo (1901); and San Francisco's Pan-Pacific Exposition (1915), winning at least four gold medals, ten prizes, and awards from various venues.
Today Wiles' paintings are in museum collections in Europe and throughout the U.S., including the National Portrait Gallery, the Corcoran Gallery, Metropolitan Museum, Smithsonian, the Butler Institute of American Art, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the DeYoung Museum, West Point Military Academy, and many others.