Irving Ramsey Wiles Oil Painting, ca. 1905

Value (2011) | $15,000 Auction$25,000 Auction

My mother-in-law was given this picture in 1964, 1965. When I married my husband in '79, it had always been in the house. I made a big joke of it that I really liked this picture and if anything happened to her, I wanted it. My mother-in-law got sick a couple of years ago, and before she died, she gave it to us, me and my husband, and we took it and had it cleaned and restored and it's been hanging in my living room for the last two years. She did tell me it was supposed to be someone famous and I did do a little research on him and he does have pieces of art in big museums.

Well, you haven't said who the artist is yet. Would you enlighten us?

It is Irving Ramsey Wiles, and most of the things I've seen that he did was a lot of landscapes.

I'm surprised you said you saw more landscapes than portraits because he was really known as a portrait painter. Do you know any of his history or his background?

I've read that he died in 1948, and I know that his father was a famous painter too.

Well, he was taught by his father. His father was Lemuel Maynard Wiles, who was more associated with the Hudson River School, which obviously is a long distance from this. But really for Wiles, his career took off when he went to the Art Students League. And there he met the person who was really going to shape his future, and that was the great painter and teacher William Merritt Chase. And they became firm friends to such an extent, in fact, that Chase, before he died, left instructions that any unfinished portraits that he'd been working on should be finished by Wiles.

Oh, that's interesting.

Following his stint in New York at the Art Students League, he then moved to Paris and he studied with Carolus- Duran and also with Boulanger. So he was really studying with the cream of the artistic community in the world at that time. Came back to New York, and... It is often difficult for an artist to make a living. He did some illustrations to support himself until his career started to take off, mainly because of his portrait work. But he also did other paintings, such as this, and this is a very attractive little oil on canvas probably dated around about 1905. Wiles was a very painterly artist, and we can see, for example, the bravura brush strokes that you associate with him down here, just in the ripples in the water. And the whole form, it's a very appealing painting. The frame looks to me to be original to it.

Think so?

It's certainly of that period, and it works well with it, and I think it should be kept with the painting. So had you ever had this work appraised before?

In 1979, an auction house got a hold of my mother-in-law and wanted to come look at it to see if they wanted to auction it. And when they came to look at it, they said that they thought it might go anywhere from $1,400 to $4,000, but she never did anything with it.

His work really is quite in demand now, and I think you probably want to add a "0" to the $1,400. I would say closer to $15,000 to $25,000.


At auction now.

Appraisal Details

Freeman's Auctioneers
Philadelphia, PA
Appraised value (2011)
$15,000 Auction$25,000 Auction
Eugene, OR (June 04, 2011)
20th Century

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