The Monuments Men

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Sidney Biehler Waugh ( 1904-1963 )

Sculptor and designer Sidney Biehler Waugh was born in Amherst, Massachusetts to a well-established family. His father, Frank A. Waugh, was a renowned landscape artist and professor. Among his five older siblings, one was an international banker fluent in Japanese, and the others included the creator of the Federal food stamp program, a university dean, and an accomplished author. Sidney Waugh completed a degree in architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1923 before studying art at the Scuola delle Belle Arte in Rome. He then moved to Paris to study under renowned sculptors Emile Bourdelle, and Henri Bouchard. Waugh successfully entered his sculptures into exhibitions and was awarded medals at the Salon de Printemps in 1928 and 1929. In 1929 he received the prestigious Prix de Rome scholarship, which funded three years of intensive study as a fellow at the American Academy in Rome. In 1939 he was honored with an honorary Master’s degree from Amherst College.

During World War II, Waugh first served with U.S. Army Air Force Intelligence. In early September 1943 he was transferred to the MFAA as a Monuments Man in North Africa and Italy. He served in the field alongside Monuments Man Capt. Deane Keller and later became Chief of the MFAA Section of Allied Military Government for U.S Fifth Army. Immediately following the bombing of the Abbey of Monte Cassino, Waugh was involved in the operation to secure and recover works of art and treasures inside the abbey which had been damaged by the bombings. For his efforts to preserve European cultural heritage, he was awarded the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, the Croix de Guerre twice, and made a Knight of the Crown of Italy.

Waugh’s sculptures adorn numerous public buildings and grace the collections of museums and private collections across the globe. In Washington, D.C. alone, he completed commissions for the National Archives Building, the U.S. Post Office Department Building, the Federal Reserve Board Building, and the Andrew W. Mellon Memorial Fountain near the National Gallery of Art. Highly desired by collectors, his works have been included in the collections of the Shah of Iran, King Farouk of Egypt, Queen Elizabeth II, and Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands. He has been featured in exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Toledo Museum of Art, and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

In addition to working as chief associate designer at Steuben Glass for three decades, Waugh was an honorary life member of the National Arts Club and a member of the advisory committee of the School of Architecture at MIT. He served as a member of the American Geographical Society, the New York City Art Commission, the National Institute of Arts and Letters, a trustee of the American Academy in Rome, and President of the National Sculpture Society.

Sidney Waugh died in New York City in 1963.