A native of Vermont, Julian Walbridge Rix spent many years of his life travelling back and forth between San Francisco and the state of his birth. He graduated from the Peacham Academy in 1868 and returned to San Francisco where he worked in the field of decorative arts and sign painting.
He was principally a self-taught artist and was known as something of a bohemian. In the late 1870's, he was one of the artists who founded the colony at Monterey. After a couple of years working in the colony, he moved back to San Francisco.
Again motivated to cross the country, this time by San Francisco's suffering art market, he headed to Patterson, New Jersey. Arriving in 1881, he soon established a studio in New York.
Julian Walbridge Rix came into his own on the East Coast. His work was exhibited at the National Academy of Design and a growing popularity brought him some considerable success.
His connections to San Francisco never faded and he returned early in the 20th Century to work on landscapes close to the Monterey art colony he was so instrumental in founding. He lived out the end of his life in New York City, where he is buried.