Sidney Waugh was born in Amherst, Massachusetts. His father Frank was a Landscape architect and professor of horticulture at the Massachusetts State College. Waugh gained admission to MIT as a 16 year old and studied at the School of Architecture between 1920 and 1923. He went on to Rome and Paris where he studied with Antoine Bourdelle and worked as an assistant to Henri Bouchard. During this time, Waugh was awarded the bronze medal of the Salon de Printemps in 1928 and the silver medal in 1929. In the same year, he won the Prix de Rome from the Rinehart School of Sculpture in Baltimore and returned to Italy for an additional three years of study as a fellow at the American Academy in Rome. Later in life, he would return to the Rinehart School to work as a teacher.
Like most of his contemporaries, Waugh's artistic career was interrupted by World War II. He served in the U.S. Army Air Force, first in military intelligence and later, following the allied victory, with the Allied Military Government. He was a member of the 345-strong group called the "Monument Men" that worked to protect cultural treasures during the war and attempted to locate and return stolen treasures after the war. While serving in North Africa and Europe, most notably in Italy, Waugh worked under fire to save and protect cultural treasures. For his efforts, he received the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, the Croix de Guerre twice, and was named Knight of the Crown of Italy.
His architectural sculptures include a group at the National Archives Building, a pediment sculpture at the U.S. Post Office Department Building, and a group at the Federal Reserve Board Building, all in Washington, D.C. Waugh also worked as chief associate designer at Steuben Glass for three decades. President Truman chose his pieces as gifts for the wedding of Princess Elizabeth and for Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands. Waugh's sculpture has also been exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Chicago Art Institute, the Cleveland Museum of Fine Arts, the Toledo Museum of Art, and the Victoria and Albert Museum. He was a member of the New York City Art Commission, the National Institute of Arts and Letters, was a trustee of the American Academy in Rome, and served as president of the National Sculpture Society.
Waugh died at the age of 59 of natural causes.
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