Wayman E. Adams (1883-1959)

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Spanierman Gallery, NYC

A painter of portraits, who depicted many of the prominent artists of his time, Wayman Adams was born in Muncie, Indiana. His first art studies took place from 1905 through 1909 at the John Herron Institute in Indianapolis. He continued his training in New York with William Forsyth, William Merritt Chase, and Robert Henri. In 1910, Adams traveled to Italy, and in 1912, he visited Spain. On his return from Europe in about 1913, he settled in Indianapolis, where he became established as a portrait painter. In 1916, he lived for about a year in Los Angeles. While in California, he painted portraits as well as landscapes and traveled to San Francisco, where he created studies in the city’s Chinatown. Adams was once again living in Indianapolis in 1917, when he painted a portrait of Otto Stark (location unknown). This work was exhibited in that year at the National Academy of Design in New York. In 1919, Adams moved to Philadelphia, but in the following year, he relocated to New York, where, he became an instructor at the Grand Central School of Art. With the exception of the years 1936 and 1937, when he lived in the Adirondack town of Elizabethtown, New York, Adams remained a resident of New York City until about 1949. In that year, he moved to Austin, Texas, where he probably remained for the rest of his life.

During the course of his career, Adams painted many illustrious figures in the worlds of art and literature. His subjects included artists Childe Hassam, Hayley Lever, Joseph Pennell, Irving Wiles, William Ritschel, George Overbury “Pop” Hart, Hobart Nichols, Lillian Genth, Emil Carlsen, Jonas Lie, George Luks, John McClure Hamilton, Edward Redfield, Paul Bartlett, and Walter Ufer. Literary figures he depicted include Booth Tarkington and Theodore Dreiser. In 1945, he painted a portrait of the actor W.C. Fields.

Adams exhibited his work widely, sending paintings to the National Academy of Design, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C. He became an associate member of the National Academy in 1926. Adams was a member of the Salmagundi Club, New York; the Philadelphia Sketch Club; the Philadelphia Art Club; the Philadelphia Water Color Club; the Indianapolis Art Club; Allied Artists of America; the New York Water Color Club; the American Water Color Society; the National Arts Club; the Century Club; the Hoosier Salon; and the American Federation of Arts. He received prizes from the National Academy of Design; the Richmond (Indiana) Art Association; the John Herron Institute, Indianapolis; the Newport Art Association; and the Hoosier Salon.

Adams’s works may be found in many important private and public collections including the Indianapolis Museum of Art; the Lafayette (Indiana) Art Association; the Texas Art Association, Dallas; the Nashville Art Association; Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts; Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore; the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; Indiana University, Bloomington; The New York Chamber of Commerce; the Indiana State Capitol, Indianapolis; the Pennsylvania State Capitol, Harrisburg; the Butler Art Institute, Youngstown, Ohio; and the Louisiana State Capitol, Baton Rouge.


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