Frederick Judd Waugh was one of the most popular painters of marine subjects of his time. Born in Bordentown, New Jersey, Waugh was raised by an artistic family. His father, Samuel B. Waugh, was a portrait and landscape painter. His mother, Eliza Young Waugh, was a miniaturist. His half-sister, Ida Waugh, was a figure painter. Oddly, his father discouraged young Frederick from becoming a painter, and it was only after a good deal of protest that Frederick was permitted to attend the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia.
From 1880 to 1883, Waugh studied at the Academy under Thomas Anshutz and Thomas Eakins. Waugh traveled abroad and studied under Adolphe William Bougereau and Tony Robert-Fleury at the Académie Julian in Paris. In the summer, Waugh painted at an artists’ colony near Fontainebleau, France. Waugh’s early work consisted of figurative works that were conventional and decorative in style. He first began painting the sea in England, and it soon became his primary subject.
Waugh remained in Europe from 1892 to 1907; from 1901 to 1907 he lived in England and worked as an illustrator for the Graphic and various London papers and magazines. He exhibited his seascapes in England, and when he returned to the United States in 1907 he was already a renowned artist. Waugh bought a house in Montclair, New Jersey in 1907, and lived there until 1915 when he moved to Kent, Connecticut. His last home was in Provincetown, Massachusetts, where he moved in 1927.
Waugh worked in both watercolor and oil in a plein-air style. He applied heavy, impasto brushstrokes on the canvas. His colors were often applied directly out of the tubes without prior mixing. This use of pure colors added to the freshness of Waugh’s paintings. The waves appear bright and wet, and the quality of light in the seascapes is amazingly realistic.
Waugh received wide recognition and praise during his lifetime. He was elected an Associate of the National Academy of Design in 1909 and an Academician in 1911. He also won many prestigious awards, including the Popular Prize from the Carnegie Institute for five consecutive years from 1934. Waugh’s work is in numerous public collections, including The St. Louis Art Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Gallery of Art, and the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, England