Samuel Bell Waugh, Portrait of Septimus Edward Norris

Samuel Bell Waugh: Portrait of Septimus Edward Norris (1841) Oil on canvas
Portrait of Septimus Edward Norris
Oil on canvas
Credit Line
Museum purchase with funds provided by Tony and Lynn Hitschler, 2003
43 x 33 in.

Samuel Bell Waugh, the well-known Philadelphia portraitist, was largely self-taught. He studied for a brief period with artist J. R. Smith in Pittsburgh, and then travelled to Europe, dividing his time over eight years in France, Italy, and England. When he returned to the United States, he settled in Philadelphia and earned his living by painting portraits for members of the political and social elite as well as such titanic political figures as Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant. In this portrait of Septimus Edward Norris, Waugh not only records the features of his young sitter, but also creates an allegory of innocence. The child's clean, unblemished body glows in the dark forest as he dips his toe into the water, gingerly testing the temperature before his swim.

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