Skinner Auctions
Skinner AuctionsBoston MA
January 23, 2015 04:00 PMCalender

Irving Ramsey Wiles (American, 1861-1948) Sunlight in the Studio

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Auction: American & European Works of Art - 2779BLocation: BostonDate / Time: January 23, 2015 4:00PM


Irving Ramsey Wiles (American, 1861-1948)

Sunlight in the Studio
Signed and dated "Irving R. Wiles 1888" l.r., titled on a presentation plaque.
Oil on canvas, 18 1/8 x 22 3/16 in. (46.0 x 56.3 cm),in a period frame.
Condition: Lined, stable craquelure, mild surface grime.

Exhibitions: Winter Exhibition, National Academy of Design, New York, December, 1888; World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, Illinois, May 1-October 30, 1893.

N.B. Sunlight in the Studio by Irving Ramsey Wiles was exhibited at the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893 and is listed in the Fine Art exhibition checklist as cat. no. 1122 (Lent by Charles D. Miller, Jersey City.) In a letter regarding this painting, Wiles scholar Geoffrey Fleming noted that the work had been described in detail in The Nation when it was first exhibited at the winter exhibition at the National Academy of Design in December, 1888, and was subsequently listed as having been exhibited at the World's Columbian Exposition in several other sources. Wiles received a bronze medal at the World's Columbian Exposition, but research thus far has not revealed which of his works was so honored. Wiles showed six oil paintings at the Exposition, among which was A Girl in Black, lent by William Merritt Chase, and The Sonata, lent by W. G. Evans of New York, the latter being illustrated in the official exposition art catalog, The Art Gallery Illustrated (p. 235).

The theme of a figure in an interior was favored by Wiles. In Sunlight in the Studio, golden light passes through the shaded window and falls on the reclining figure and on the accoutrements within the artist's studio: the oriental rug and vase, silver samovar, handsome furnishings, as well as the overstuffed artist's portfolio. The model in this painting was thought to be the artist's wife, but Geoffrey Fleming has noted that at the time of this painting, May Wiles would have been about to give birth (or just given birth) to the couple's only child, Gladys, so this may not be accurate. However, the true subject of the painting is revealed in its title,

Irving Ramsey Wiles was born in Utica, 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 Art Students League under James Carroll Beckwith and William Merritt Chase that he determined to make his father's profession his own. Chase became Wiles' mentor, and the two men remained lifelong friends. After two years at the Art Students League (1879-1881),Wiles went on to Paris to study at the Académie Julian, perhaps at the suggestion of another of the League's teachers, Thomas Wilmer Dewing. In Paris in 1882, Wiles also entered the atelier of Carolus-Duran, an influential teacher who counted John Singer Sargent among his pupils.

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. When set outdoors, 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 and Frank Weston Benson.

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.

We wish to thank Geoffrey K. Fleming, Director of the Southold Historical Society and author of Irving Ramsay Wiles, N.A., 1861-1948: Portraits and Pictures, 1899-1948 for his kind assistance with the cataloging of this lot. A letter from Mr. Fleming accompanies the lot.

The lot is also accompanied by period books about the Exposition, including : Kurtz, Charles, ed., The Art Gallery Illustrated, Official Illustrations from the Art Gallery of the World's Columbian Exposition (Philadelphia: George Barrie 1893); White, Trumbull and William Igleheart, The World's Columbian Exposition (Philadelphia: World Publishing Company, 1893); The Official Directory of the World's Columbian Exposition, A Reference Book (Chicago: W.B. Conkey Company, 1893); Official Guide to the World's Columbian Exposition, compiled by John J. Flinn (Chicago: The Columbian Guide Company, 1893); and copies of other ephemera relating to the fair.
Estimate $100,000-150,000

With a label from W.H. Powell Artists' Materials, New York, affixed to the stretcher. Inscribed in pencil "Lewis & Son 18 x. ..." on the back of the frame.

Glue lined some years ago, probably early 20th century. No visible evidence of retouch under UV examination.

The absence of a condition statement does not imply that the lot is in perfect condition or completely free from wear and tear, imperfections or the effects of aging. Condition requests can be obtained via email (lot inquiry button) or by telephone to the appropriate gallery location (Boston/617.350.5400 or Marlborough/508.970.3000). Any condition statement given, as a courtesy to a client, is only an opinion and should not be treated as a statement of fact. Skinner Inc. shall have no responsibility for any error or omission.


Irving Ramsey Wiles, Columbian Guide Company, Geoffrey Fleming, Chicago, William Merritt Chase, John Singer Sargent, National Academy of Design, Jersey City, oil paintings, overstuffed artist, Gladys, Utica, Lemuel Wiles, New York's Art Students League, Paris, Art Students League, Thomas Wilmer Dewing, influential teacher, Frank Weston Benson, Geoffrey K. Fleming, Southold Historical Society, Director, Irving Ramsay Wiles N.A., Philadelphia, George Barrie, Trumbull Igleheart, William Igleheart, John J. Flinn