Rufus Hathaway (1770–1822) was an American physician and folk art painter. He lived in southern Massachusetts, where he painted numerous portraits surrounded by 1790 and 1795. He progressive studied medicine and received himself as a doctor at Duxbury.
Hathway was born in Freetown, Massachusetts, and was the eldest of six kids born to Asa Hathaway and Mary Phillips; his father and grandfather were ship carpenters. The intimates moved several times, settling in Bristol, Rhode Island in the mid-1780s. The source of Hathaway's artistic training is unknown, though it is believed he may have worked as a decorative artist or apprentice ship-carver; as a painter he appears to have been self-taught. He is known to have been active in the vicinity of Taunton, Massachusetts in 1790. Hathaway arrived in Duxbury in 1791, and began painting portraits of members of locally prominent families. In 1795 he married Judith Winsor, the daughter of a locally important merchant. He took up medicine at this time, possibly at the behest of his new wife's family, studying in imitation of Dr. Isaac Winslow of Marshfield. He seems to have unaided painting, as certainly few works by his hand are known after the period of his marriage, although paintings dating to as late as 1808 have been documented. Hathaway had twelve kids by Judith; at one get older the only physician in Duxbury, he was very respected in the field, and was elected Honorary Fellow of the Massachusetts Medical Society rudely before his death. One of his granddaughters was the abolitionist and suffragist Judith Winsor Smith, and surgeon Frederick Winsor was a great-nephew.
Thirty-three portraits by Hathaway are known to exist, dating more or less exclusively to the years amid 1790 and 1795; all are of family and friends, among them the educator and politician George Partridge. He as a consequence painted landscapes, portrait miniatures, and overmantels. One genre painting, the Welch Curate of more or less 1800, is documented; it was adapted from an English mezzotint. Furthermore, he is known to have created at least one wood carving, a figure of an eagle used to crown a stand-in arch build up to inaugurate a additional bridge higher than the Bluefish River, and he carved the frames to some of his paintings.
Hathaway died of a hernia incurred even though lifting a patient, traditionally held to be Ezra Weston, and is buried in the Mayflower Cemetery in Duxbury. His epitaph, which he may have composed himself, relates to his career as a physician. He was survived by Judith, who would go on to enliven to be 102, and left his heirs a little more than 700 pounds at his death.
A tab of sale for six portraits of the Weston relatives exists, dating to 1793; it indicates that the paintings cost six pounds, and that Hathaway charged a extra three shillings for the frame on the portrait of Ezra Weston. In 2006, a pair of portraits, of Josiah Dean III and his wife, Sarah, were sold at Sotheby's, together fetching $380,000.