A portrait painter of the "Gilded Age", Irving Ramsey Wiles would begin his studies as a musician and not a painter. Born in Utica, New York in 1861, Wiles would study with his father, Lemuel Maynard Wiles, until he was seventeen. In 1878 he exhibited for the first time at the National Academy of Design and began to study with William Merritt Chase at the Art Students League. He remained in New York from 1879 to 1881 and then travelled to Paris. He enrolled at the Academie Julian and studied under Boulanger, Carolus-Duran and Lefebvre.
Upon his return in 1884 he began working as an illustrator for major magazines of the day, and took whatever commission work he could find. When he was elected to the National Academy three years later he was able to dedicate himself strictly to his easel painting.
He was soon a popular genre, portrait and landscape painter winning many honors and awards, including recognition at the Paris Salon. Additionally, William Merritt Chase selected Wiles as his professional heir, choosing the painter to complete any outstanding commissions upon his death.
Following World War I, the National Art Committee chose Wiles as one of the eight painters commissioned to create portraits of the historic figures associated with the event. Wiles would paint President Theodore Roosevelt and William Jennings Bryant.
From 1895 and onward Wiles spent his summers at the Silver Lake Art School, where he and his father gave classes along the shores of Long Island. Wiles purchased more land in the area and built his own studio, where he continued to work until his death in 1948.
His paintings are in the collections of many major museums, both in the United States and Europe.