Richard Parley was born in 1875 in Poultney, Vermont. He was a student of James McNeil Whistler in Paris and William Merritt Chase and Cecilia Beaux at the Pennsylvania Academ of the Fine Arts. No concrete proof has been located that Parley studied with Howard Pyle at Drexel, but he is mentioned by Henry Pitz and Richard Lykes as Having done so. Parley held his first one-man show in 1916 at the Arlington Galleries in New York. He apparently had a studio in Philadelphia which faced Washington Square near center city.

During his lifetime, Parley exhibited frequently at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (1902-1931) and at St. Botolph’s Club in Boston. Parley’s paintings are owned by the Corcoran Gallery, Washington, D.C., the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the Reading, Pennsylvania, Museum.