Molly Wales Fobes

Rufus Hathaway American

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 717

Born in Massachusetts, Hathaway worked as an itinerant portrait painter before pursuing a career in medicine. "Lady with Her Pets" is his earliest known work and depicts Molly Wales Fobes of Raynham, Massachusetts. Fashionably dressed, Molly sits in a Chippendale-style chair surrounded by a fantastical array of “pets,” which were likely included as emblems of her beauty, loyalty, and affection. They may also reference her family’s interest in natural history, as her father was a professor of Natural and Experimental Philosophy. The flowers decorating her fan and bodice, combined with her French-inspired hairstyle, identify Molly as a refined and worldly woman.

Molly Wales Fobes, Rufus Hathaway (1770–1822), Oil on canvas, American

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