Wayman Adams was a notable portraitist in the years between the two world wars. In 1904 he began four years of study with William Forsyth (1854-1935) at the John Herron Art Institute in Indianapolis, and he later studied with WILLIAM M. CHASE in Italy and ROBERT HENRI in Spain. Adams’s reputation was established in Indianapolis, where his first major exhibition was held in 1911. He remained active in the Midwest until the early 1930s, although beginning in 1919 he made his home in New York City, maintaining a studio in the Sherwood Building there. He exhibited extensively throughout the country.
Adopting the painterly techniques of his teachers, Adams developed a vigorous, yet conservative style that satisfied his upper-class clientele. Among the many writers, financiers, and politicians he painted were Hamlin Garland, Robert Underwood Johnson, Booth Tarkington, and three presidents, including Herbert Hoover. He was also highly respected by his peers and painted numerous portraits of such fellow artists as JOSEPH PENNELL, Jerome Myers (1867-1940), and Irving Wiles (1861-1948). Although considered primarily a painter of men, Adams produced many portraits of women and children He also executed figural subjects based upon his travels. Late in life he organized a summer art school at his farm in Elizabeth, New York. His last years were spent in Texas.
Helen Comstock, "Portraits of Wayman Adams," International Studio 77 (May 1923): 86-91 § New-York Historical Society, DeWitt McClellan Lockman Papers, "Interview with Wayman Adams," 1926 (on microfilm, Archiv. Am. Art) § Rose Henderson, "Wayman Adams: Portrait Painter," American Magazine of Art 21 (November 1930): 640-48 § Rose Henderson, "Wayman Adams: American Portrait Painter," London Studio 8 (September 1934): 145-48 § Indianapolis, John Herron Art Museum, Wayman Adams, N.A.: Memorial Exhibition of Paintings, exh. cat., 1959, with essay by Wilbur D. Peat.