Ida Waugh (1846-1919), Pair of Portraits, Young Girls Holding Kittens - Antique Associated At West Townsend

Ida Waugh (1846-1919), Pair of Portraits, Young Girls Holding Kittens

Signed, Upper Right

Ida Waugh (1846-1919), Pair of Portraits, Young Girls Holding Kittens

Of Waugh’s popular images of toddlers, these are very rare in depicting African Americans. Furthermore, they are not caricatural/racist, as most depictions of black children were at that time, made by artists like E. W. Kemble, A. B. Frost, and Thomas Worth. Instead, these are charming and humorous. As any cat owner knows, kittens can and will dig in their needle-sharp claws to climb up your body! The only related Waugh we found is in the Princeton University Art Museum, interestingly depicting two African American boys. Some of the illustrations in Waugh’s books are of African Americans, although these are isolated examples.

Ida Waugh was the daughter of Samuel Bell Waugh and his first wife – Sarah Lendenhall. Samuel was a well-known Philadelphia portrait and genre artist who had pursued art study abroad and exhibited frequently in New York City and Philadelphia. Frederic, Ida’s half-brother, became a well-known marine painter. Ida’s step-mother Frederick’s mother was Mary Eliza Young Waugh, a miniaturist. With a pedigree and family like that, it was little wonder Ida became an artist.

Ida was born in 1846 (not in 1819 as is commonly stated on the web). Her father was her first teacher. She was a student in the first “Ladies Life Class” at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1868 – a class also attended by Emily Sartain and Catherine Ann Drinker. This was an era when lady artists were often relegated to more lady-like subjects and painting men or models that were unclothed was frowned upon. This class would lead to a virtual revolution in the art world that opened-up life classes to women artists in America. The classes were still, however, restricted to “ladies” classes and often clothed models. It was a time that the art world was only beginning to accept that women were entering the profession and not simply dabbling in the arts until marriage. Waugh later travelled abroad, studying art at the Academy Julian and the Academy Delecluse in Paris

While still living at home with her parents, Waugh first met Amy Blanchard. Amy was hired to be young Frederick Waugh’s tutor. Ida and Amy would become fast friends. They would work together, play together, live together and in the end, were only separated by Ida’s death in 1919. Along the way Ida and Amy published a small library of children’s books. Amy often wrote the text and Ida provided the wonderful illustrations. Ida also published several of her own books, featuring sweet-faced infants and children often with little else in the illustration. Though she would never marry or have children, she could capture the look of pure love that often passes between mothers and their children perfectly. She would also include flowers and a few animal drawings to further adorn the pages.

Ida Waugh was not only an illustrator of children’s books, but she was also an award-winning painter. Her most famous work, Hagar, and Ishmael, was shown in the French Salon in 1888. Her portrait of Dr. Paul J. Sartain won the 1896 Norman W. Dodge prize at the National Academy of Design and was also exhibited in the 1901 Pan American Exposition. Her work was also exhibited in Philadelphia (Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts), Cincinnati, Chicago (Art Institute) and New York (National Academy of Design).

Louis Prang, who published greeting cards, held an annual contest and Ida Waugh was listed among the winners. In the late 1890s, several her illustrations from When Mother Was a Little Girl were made into chromolithographic postcards, which are highly collectible today. She was also employed by the New York publishing firm McLoughlin Brothers.

Item Date: 1890s

Measurement: Frame: 18.75" x 20.75"; view: 8.75" x 10.75"

Material: Oil on board, period frames possibly original

Item Condition: Very good


SKU 1292-5

For More Information, Please Contact David Hillier at 978-597-8084 or email

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