At the age of four, Emily Burling Waite first impressed her family by drawing a chalk profile of one of her brothers on their kitchen wall. Waite was born in Worcester, MA in 1887. Following high school, Waite enrolled in the School of the Worcester Art Museum where she studied under Philip Leslie Hale from 1905 to 1906.
Waite then won a drawing competition for a two-year scholarship to study at the Art Students League in New York City. At the League, Waite abandoned her intention to become an illustrator when one of her instructors convinced her to change to portrait painting. From 1908 to 1910 Waite enrolled in the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. There she studied under Philip Leslie Hale and Francis Luis Mora.
In 1910 Waite was awarded a Paige Traveling Scholarship for a two-year study in Europe, and she lived at the American Girls Club in Paris for eight months. This allowed her to work from her studio in the Latin Quarter and make copies of paintings in the Louvre. During her stay in Paris, an original portrait, “La Robe Mauve”, was included in an exhibition at the Salon des Beaux Arts. Waite made her first etchings while in Europe. She also worked from a studio in Laren, the Netherlands and did work in Spain, Italy and Czechoslovakia.
Upon her return to the United States in 1912, Emily Waite established a studio in Boston on Boylston Street. At this time many of her portraits were signed, “E. B. Waite”. In 1915 she was awarded a silver medal at the Panama Pacific Exposition in San Francisco. She next worked in New York City, Washington, DC and Newport, RI. When she was in Washington she painted a portrait of Chief Justice William Howard Taft. In 1924 Waite married Arthur Williams Manchester of Newport and lived there until her divorce in 1931.
Following her divorce, Emily Waite moved to Worcester with her son and established a studio at her family’s home. She also taught drawing, painting and design at the Bancroft School in Worcester from 1934 to 1938. During the 1940s her work was exhibited at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the National Academy of Design and the Society of American Graphic Artists, one of her principal graphic art associations.
In the 1950s Emily Waite began to use soft-ground etching as one of her favored graphic mediums. She also had one-woman exhibitions at the Guild of Boston Artists, the Society of American Graphic Artists and the National Association of Women Artists. Waite received several awards including the M. Grumbacher Award of Merit in 1955, the Award of Excellence of the American Veteran’s Society of Artists in 1955 and 1957 and their Award of Excellence for Etching in Color in 1957.
In 1959 Waite returned to Europe, primarily to study frescoes in northern Italy. Upon her return she made many drawings of frescoes from her sketches and memory of the works of Mantegna, della Francesca, Masolino, Massaccio and Giotto. She remained active throughout the 1960s and 1970s, etching and painting portraits, especially of community leaders. Her portrait of Congressman Philip J. Philbin, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, painted in 1972, was placed in the Carl Vinson Room of the Rayburn Office Building in Washington, DC. Waite continued to exhibit at several art associations where she was a member. At the 1975 exhibition of the North Shore Arts Association in East Gloucester, MA, her portrait, “Prunella in Repose”, was awarded the Margaret Fitzhugh Brown Memorial Award for Best Portrait.

Guild of Boston Artists
The Society of American Graphic Artists

Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, MA
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
Newport Art Museum, Newport, RI
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC
Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC
Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, MA
American Red Cross Headquarters, Washington, DC
Boston Public Library, Boston, MA
Clark University, Worcester, MA
Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel, Boston, MA
Higgins Armory Museum, Worcester, MA
Library of Congress, Washington, DC
Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC
Smithsonian National Air Museum, Washington, DC
Worcester County Horticultural Society, Boylston, MA
Worcester Historical Museum, Worcester, MA


Artworks for Sale