Cadwallader Lincoln Washburn was born on October 31, 1866 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Washburn lost his hearing at age five and attended Gallaudet College in Washington, DC an institution for the hearing impaired, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree. He went on to study at MIT, where he got a degree in architecture and painting at the Art Students League in New York. He also studied with William Merritt Chase in Shinnecock, New York in 1895.
Known as “The Silent Artist” he began etching in 1903 and in 1904 he became a war correspondent for the Chicago Daily News, covering the Russian Japanese War of 1904-05, and the Madera Revolution in Mexico, 1910-12. He traveled to Europe for further studies of art in Spain with Joaquin Sorolla y Bistida and in Paris with Albert Besnard. From 1896 to 1904, he exhibited at the Paris Salon and in 1915 at the Paris Exposition.
After spending his winters is Mexico after 1908 Washburn moved to California and exhibited 50 prints at the Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco in 1915 where won a gold medal for his work. He lived in Morro Bay and Lone Pine, California. In the 1920s, he did a series of etchings of Hopi and Navajo Native Americans. Washburn was a member of numerous arts groups, including the National Academy of Design and SAGA and his work is represented in museum collections throughout the US.
The last part of his life was spent in Brunswick, Maine. Cadwallader Washburn died on December 21, 1965 at age 99 in Farmington, Maine.