Born in rural Indiana in 1883, Wayman Elbridge Adams was encouraged to explore his artistic talent at a young age. His father was an amateur artist himself.
Adams moved to Indianapolis at the age of 21 and attended the John Herron Art Institute, where he began painting portraits. Having developed his skills as a portraitist, he relocated to New York City.
The artist took two trips to Europe in the 1910s. First he traveled to Italy with William Merritt Chase, followed by a trip to Spain with Robert Henri. In Spain, he met his future wife artist Margaret Boroughs.
Adams’s style was similar to that of Chase and Henri, favoring the alla prima method. He was known for painting entire portraits in one sitting. During his lifetime, Adams painted portraits of many well known figures, including Presidents Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover. The pictured portrait is that of Samuel T. Shaw, a prominent arts patron.