Frederick Waugh Information and Inventory

Frederick Waugh

(1861 - 1940)

Fredrick Waugh 


I think Frederick Waugh must be one of the first four or five artists with whom I became familiar. In the least “art speak” manner I can express, I’m a sucker for marines. During my first exposure to Cape Ann in 1965, I met the marine painter Phil Shumaker, who idealized Waugh and owned an outstanding example by the artist. Anxious to see more, I frequented the Grand Central Gallery, which represented the artist during his lifetime and always had exceptional examples. Much has been written about the artist and his contribution to creating virtually his own unique genre, the pure marine. Waugh did not resort to adding boats, figures, seagulls, or any other beach debris to create interest and visually stunning designs—he achieved it purely through the compelling patterns and shapes of rocks, waves and sky. During his productive lifetime, he earned more “popular prizes;” that is, those selected by the viewing public, than any other artist. Simply put, people loved his work. He wasn’t always a marine painter; in fact his early studies in Europe, commencing in 1883, and especially England, produced exceptional genre painting, city scenes, and landscapes. While living on the Isle of Sark, however, extensive observation of the ocean in all its movements and mystery, he refined his skills as a chronicler of the sea. So thoroughly did he understand the sea that many of his masterpieces were painted in his studios in Montclair, New Jersey, and years later in Kent, Connecticut, both a considerable distance from the ocean. He moved up and down the eastern seacoast, visited the tropics, and consistently searched for exciting patterns of rocks and surf to challenge his imagination. The first three paintings by Waugh in the collection were all acquired in 1969 from the Grand Central Gallery. The smallest and only dated example my father purchased and it is significant because the year 1910 was the only summer he worked on Cape Ann. Yet, Cape Ann had a profound effect on Waugh, as he returned briefly to painting harbor images with boats, docks, and figures as he had done earlier in St. Ives, and the Cape Ann light helped him lighten and freshen his palette. The fourth and largest example was acquired at auction in 2000 and is definitely not your pretty beach picture with sunshine and gentle surf. It is a disturbing powerful picture of the sea and menacing rock formations painted in Maine in 1909, entitled East Coast Bailey’s Island, Casco Bay. My wife does not like this picture; she says it’s a “man’s painting.” I suspect she really means a “disturbed man.” This gives me something to think about.

Frederick Waugh Gallery

No paintings by this author