Ida Waugh was born into a family of artists: her father Samuel Bell Waugh (1814-1885) was a highly regarded portrait painter, who also painted genre scenes and a panorama that was exhibited in Philadelphia between 1849 and 1855; her mother Mary Eliza Young Waugh was a miniature painter; and her brother was the illustrator and painter of seascapes Frederick Judd Waugh (1861-1940). Ida Waugh studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and was later a member of the first life class for women taught there by Emily Sartain (1841-1927) and Catherine Drinker (1841-1922) in 1869. She then studied in Paris at the Académie Julian, the Académie Delecluse, and with Jules-Joseph Lefebvre (1836-1911) and Benjamin Constant (1845-1902).
Waugh became a well-known illustrator, especially of children’s books and in addition to that, exhibited portraits, historical and allegorical scenes, and sculpture at the Pennsylvania Academy between 1863 and 1905. She also exhibited at the Paris Salons of 1889, 1890, and 1891, and at the National Academy of Design where she won the Norman W. Dodge Prize in 1896. She also exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy from 1863 until 1905 and at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876 and the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893.
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