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 Alfred Rudolf Waud  (1828 - 1891)

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Lived/Active: New York      Known for: frontier activity drawing, war-genre, townscape, illustrator

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Ad Code: 3
Alfred Rudolf Waud
from Auction House Records.
Hotel Dieu Near Southwest Pass
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
An illustrator of Civil War and frontier South and West themes, Alfred Waud was born in London, England, and studied in London at the School of Design at Somerset House and the Royal Academy. Waud is regarded as one of the outstanding reportorial draughtsman of the 19th century, noted for his accuracy and ambitious coverage of his subject matter.

Upon his arrival in America, he went to work for Harper's Weekly and, assigned to the Army of the Potomac, covered events from the beginning to the end of the Civil War. He was well-liked and accepted by the soldiers and captured numerous on-the-spot illustrations for the New York Illustrated News. In one case, his drawing of a battle field was so valuable strategically that a Union general used his to plan his attack strategy. In 1865, was acclaimed by Harper's "as the most important artist-corespondent of the Civil War.

In 1866, he began touring the antebellum South and west to the Rockies, recording Indian and pioneer life. He also went into the Mississippi River Valley and the Dakota Territory, but after 1882, suffered ill health and ceased to travel.

A large collection of his work is in the Waud Collection of the Library of Congress.

Peggy and Harold Samuels, Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West
Peter Hastings Falk, Editor, Who Was Who in American Art

Biography from Charleston Renaissance Gallery:
In the days before photo-journalism, it was the job of the artist-correspondent, or special artist, as he was sometimes called, to make a visual record of current events.

The War Between the States created an unprecedented demand for the skills of the special artist. Young men trained in the craft of engraving or drafting were employed in great numbers by the publishers of Harper's, Leslie's, the New York Illustrated News, and the London Illustrated News.

Perhaps the single special artist who left to posterity more sketches of the War Between the States than any other was the Englishman Alfred Waud, who covered the Army of the Potomac for Harper's Weekly for most of the duration of the war. The astounding number of twenty-three hundred field sketches by him are housed in the Library of Congress, the gift to the nation of J. Pierpont Morgan.

Born in London in 1828, Waud studied scene painting at the Schools of Design at Somerset House and the Royal Academy. When he joined the New York Illustrated News in 1861 he was sent to Washington to cover war-related developments. He worked for them for less than a year, at which time he accepted the offer of Harper & Brothers to make drawings of hostilities for Harper's Weekly.

In 1866 Waud traveled down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers on assignment by Harper's to cover the early efforts at reconstruction. He was in Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana. Waud never returned to England to live. He died in Marietta, Georgia, where he had gone in an attempt to improve his failing health.

Biography from Museum of Nebraska Art:
Alfred Rudolph Waud (1828-1891)

Alfred Waud (pronounced Wod) was born in London, England on October 2, 1828, and studied painting there at the School of Design at Somerset House and the Royal Academy before immigrating to America in 1850. Best known for his illustrations of the Civil War published as wood engravings for such periodicals as New York Illustrated and Harper’s Weekly, Waud was regarded by many historians as one of the most skilled and prolific artists at capturing scenes of the Civil War. He was assigned to the Army of the Potomac, and he witnessed many major battles including the Battle of Gettysburg. Over 2,000 of his Civil War field sketches are housed at the Library of Congress.

Following the war, Waud made trips to the West. His engravings for Harper’s Weekly were usually credited as by a Harper’s Special Artist. His cattle scenes from his journey to Texas were published in 1867. On his second trip west in 1868, he traveled to Nebraska Territory where he created one of his most famous western engravings, Pilgrims of the Plains, published in 1871. Waud also went to the Dakotas. The artist had known George Armstrong Custer during the Civil War and painted his version of Custer’s Last Stand.

The railroad sketch in the Museum of Nebraska Art’s collection was published in Albert Richardson’s book Beyond the Mississippi in 1867. It is probable that this sketch was not drawn from experience but rather from a photograph.

In his 50s, Alfred Waud suffered failing health, no longer traveling after 1882. He died in Marietta, Georgia in April of 1891 where he had gone in hopes of improving.

The Museum of Nebraska Art has one work by Alfred Waud.

Researched and written by Gary Zaruba and Karen Park, 2013, a project of MONA’s Bison Society.

Taft, Robert. Artist and Illustrators of the Old West 1850-1900. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1953.

Zaruba, Gary. “Alfred R. Waud.” MONA files, n.d.

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Alfred Waud is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
Civil War Art

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