Irving Ramsey Wiles (American, 1861-1948)
A Walk Along the Harbor Shore
Signed "Irving R. Wiles" l.r.
Oil on canvas, 16 1/8 x 22 in. (41.0 x 55.8 cm), in a frame liner.
Condition: Surface grime.
Provenance: Descended within a New England family collection.
N.B. Irving Ramsey Wiles was born in upstate New York. He was introduced to painting by his father, artist Lemuel Wiles (1826-1905), but it was not until he studied at New York's Arts Students League that he determined to make his father's profession his own. It was here that Wiles first met his mentor, William Merritt Chase (1849-1916), and the two remained lifelong friends. After two years at the Arts Students League Wiles went to Paris to study at the Académie Julian, perhaps at the suggestion of another of the League's teachers, Thomas Wilmer Dewing (1851-1938).
Like many of his late 19th century contemporaries, Wiles used the "new" vitality of the Impressionist brush stroke and palette to express the beauty of the world around him. Not unlike Chase, Wiles was known for his dexterous and energized portraits, which often idealized his subjects by placing them in elegant attire and settings. Wiles often depicted his female subjects in white dresses. Out of doors, they were frequently drenched in warm sunlight and dashed with blue brushstrokes of shadow, a technique regularly employed by Chase, as well as John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) and Frank Weston Benson (1862-1951).
Although portraiture was considered his forte, Wiles also painted the hills and shores of Long Island. In the late 1890s Wiles built a studio and cottage on the shores at Peconic, and he summered there regularly with his family. Here he found painting the out-of-doors a pleasant change from the bustle of portrait painting in the city. The work presented here reflects both aspects of his career, as we see an elegant young woman in white strolling the shore, while the breeze and sun of a blustery morning enliven both the figure and her surroundings.
Subtle rippling, may benefit from tightening stretcher keys and a cleaning. No evidence of retouch. There are a minute stray drips in the sky and water, center top, and in the lower right corner. Yellowed varnish, unevenly applied. There is some fraying of the canvas along the tacking edges. The painting is held in the frame with screw eyes screwed through the tacking edges into the stretcher.