Rufus Hathaway (1770-1822)

Rufus Hathaway (1770-1822)

Rufus Hathaway was born in Freetown, Massachusetts, the first of six children of Asa Hathaway and Mary Phillips. Nothing is known of his early training, although it has been suggested that he learned the portrait limner trade and wood carving from ship builders and painters in southeastern Massachusetts. 

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In 1791, he arrived in Duxbury, Massachusetts as an itinerant painter and began creating portraits of members of the prominent families there and in nearby towns: the Eddys, Edsons, Westons and Winslows. In 1795, Hathaway married Judith Winslow, the daughter of a wealthy Duxbury merchant, and took up medicine as a profession. He painted portraits only occasionally after 1795. Together the Hathaways had twelve children and Rufus Hathaway became a highly respected physician in Duxbury. In 1822, shortly before his death, he was elected Honorary Fellow of the Massachusetts Medical Society.

Hathaway’s active painting career spanned only five years and thirty-three portraits known to be by his hand survive today.

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