Cadwallader Washburn

Artist and adventurer

Cadwallader Washburn packed many adventures and accomplishments into his 99 years. He was a master etcher and painter, author, war correspondent, authority on insects, multilingual world traveler and explorer, and more. Although he was interested in science and nature, he chose a career in art, studying, traveling abroad, living the bohemian life, and painting. Upon seeing an exhibit of drypoint etchings by the American James McNeill Whistler, Washburn decided to switch from oil painting to drypoint etching. He established himself as a master of this exacting technique, creating a magnificent output of works. While he was studying architecture and culture in Mexico in 1910, war broke out, and he accomplished some deft journalistic feats. While sketching rare birds and collecting eggs in the Marquesas Islands in 1925, he ended up stranded on a cannibals’ island—another adventure. Gallaudet University’s Washburn Arts Building was dedicated in his honor in 1969, and Gallaudet also has one of the finest collections of Washburn’s drypoints.

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