Born in Portland, Maine on 14 January 1861, the son of Lydia Libby and Edward Souther Griffin, a successful woodcarver, Walter began studying art under his father. First, he learned the techniques of sculpture, carving pictorial bas-reliefs, decorative works and small figures. Even as a youth, Walter attempted to capture the likenesses of local mariners who visited his father's studio and he was allowed to accompany his father on sketching trips with the group. At the age of seventeen, Walter left home to attend the recently established School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, where he won a scholarship. Here in 1878, his first teacher was Emil Otto Grundmann, and some of his fellow students in
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