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Museum: 10:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Gardens: 7:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Today's Hours
Museum: 10:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Gardens: 7:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Waugh, Frederick Judd
(1861-1940)
Specialty: Paintings
View Artwork
In 1861, Frederick Judd Waugh had the benefit of being born into an
artistic family; his father, Samuel B. Waugh, was a noted portrait
painter, and his mother, Mary Eliza Young, a miniature painter. With such
a background, it should come as no surprise that both Frederick and his
half-sister Ida grew up to be artists, a future prophesied by his father
who once told him, "Freddy, you will never make a businessman. You will do
much better as an artist." That encouragement led to the younger Waugh
spending three years at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, studying
under the renowned Thomas Eakins. In 1883, he took the obligatory next
step for serious would-be artists and traveled to Paris to study at the
Academie Julian, where he had the tutelage of academic masters Adolphe
William Bougereau and Tony Robert-Fleury. He had his first work accepted
at the Paris Salon while still a student. Unfortunately, his father's
illness took him back to the United States in 1885, where he did
commercial work and portraiture to support himself and his family for the
next seven years. But in 1892, after his marriage to Clara Eugenie Bunn,
who had been a fellow student at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts,
the young couple returned to Paris.

However, it was a trip to Sark Island in the English Channel in 1893 that
first infused him with the fascination with the sea and seascapes that led
to his greatest works. From there, he moved on to the art colony at St.
Ives, Cornwall (which had once inspired the great J.M.W. Turner) where he
began to study the interplay of water, rock, and sky, even battling harsh
elements to paint en plein air and develop the skills that would
make him a great marine painter. To support himself and his wife in the
meantime, he did commercial work, including composing illustrations of the
Boer War for the London Daily Mail.

Waugh began to make a name for himself with his seascapes during his years
in England, but after two of his paintings were rejected by the Royal
Academy of Art in 1907, the Waughs returned to America where the same
works were met with acclaim. The turbulent sea voyage home provided
further inspiration, as did his encounter with a seascape by famed
American artist Winslow Homer whom he hoped to emulate. Though he
initially settled his family in New Jersey and once again took up
commercial work, his awareness of the new artistic vogue for seascapes as
a vessel to explore effects of lights and color led him to abandon that
safe venue and return to the seashore. He began to explore the rocky New
England coast, spending 1908 and 1909 living with his half-sister in her
ocean front cottage on Bailey's Island, visiting the nearby Cape Ann, and
eventually moving on to Gloucester and Monhegan Island. During this time,
his painting underwent a fundamental change. As his biographer George R.
Havens describes it:

Whether it was a belated influence of impressionism, coming to the
surface suddenly after lying dormant through all these years, or only an
instinctive mood of experimentation on his part, quite unconnected,
consciously at least, with any artistic tendencies that had gone before,
he now began to work with a thick impasto and a full use of undiluted
color which reflected the vivid impact of these new scenes. In consequent,
these Gloucester paintings have a shimmer, a vibration, a brilliance,
which are in peculiar harmony with the subject.


Soon, he settled in Provincetown, Massachusetts, where he remained until
his death in 1940. It was during these years that Waugh produced the
paintings of the storm-tossed New England coast for which he is
best-known, including the three works in the Norton's permanent
collection, The Breaker Line, On the Maine Coast, and
Seascape.

Though countless artists have depicted the crashing waves of the North
Atlantic coast, no one has been more responsible for popularizing American
marine painting than Waugh, whose exhaustive lifelong study of light,
shadow, and the motion of waves resulted in his realistic and expressive
effects, techniques he shared with his fellow and future artists in
several instructional books. At the height of his popularity, Waugh was
painting ten canvases a month to keep up with the demand for his
paintings, yet he also found time to write children's books, design silver
and copper objects d'art, and perform as a skilled architect, designing
the Episcopal church of St. Mary's of the Harbor in Provincetown, among
others. In 1911 he was elected a member of the National Academy of Design,
and for five consecutive years he was voted the favorite artist of the
Carnegie International Exhibition in Pittsburgh. His fame and knowledge of
the sea led the U.S. government to call on his help to camouflage ships
during World War I. When he died in 1940 on the eve of another war, his
family buried him on the Massachusetts coast, within sight and sound of
the sea.

Everl Adair, Director of Research and Rare Collections