After the Revolutionary War, Duxbury, Massachusetts, became a center of the shipbuilding industry largely through the efforts of leading citizens Joshua Winsor, his brother Nathaniel, Ezra Weston Sr., and Samuel Delano. By 1787 sixty-four Great Banks fishing vessels were in commission, and the Winsors were successfully engaged in mackerel and cod fishing; theirs were the first wharves to be built in Duxbury specifically for business. It was during this period of achievement that Joshua Winsor chose to have his extensive properties documented by Rufus Hathaway, a young artist who rode through town in 1793, when he painted at least ten portraits of the Weston family, and again in 1795, when he portrayed Winsor’s daughters. Soon after his marriage to Judith Winsor later that year, Hathaway studied to become a physician, and although his primary occupation thereafter was medicine, his creativity continued to find expression in paint and poetry.
Among the many anecdotal details Hathaway included in the painting of Winsor’s home, wharves, and warehouses that stored the salted fish that had been dried on flakes are Joshua Winsor himself, holding the keys to his extensive storehouses; a large black dog on the doorstep of his impressive home; a fishing vessel named The Rising Sun; and a figure shooting at geese flying overhead.
Stacy C. Hollander, “A View of Mr. Joshua Winsor's House &c.,” exhibition label for Self-Taught Genius: Treasures from the American Folk Art Museum. Stacy C. Hollander and Valérie Rousseau, curators. New York: American Folk Art Museum, 2014.