Many artists struggle to obtain critical and financial success within their lifetimes. This was not the case for Frederick Waugh, although he did have to convince his father, landscape and portrait painter Samuel Bell Waugh, to allow him to pursue his profession.
At 19, Waugh attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia and studied under Thomas Eakins and Thomas Anshutz, following that with Adolphe William Bougereau and Tony-Robert Fleury at the Academie Julien in Paris.
His education proved valuable. Waugh garnered acclaim as a marine artist while working in London as an illustrator at the turn of the century for several publications. Returning to America in 1907, he gained membership to many academies, also winning numerous awards, including the popular prize from the Carnegie International Exhibition of paintings five consecutive years starting in 1934.