Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
James Frothingham, American (Charlestown, MA 1786 - 1864 Brooklyn, NY)
Benjamin Waterhouse (1754-1846)
Benjamin Waterhouse (1754-1846)
Work Type
Creation Place: North America, United States
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Oil on wood panel
83.8 x 67.8 cm (33 x 26 11/16 in.)
framed: 105.1 x 90.2 x 12.7 cm (41 3/8 x 35 1/2 x 5 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • label: lower back of panel, paper inscription in plastic sleeve, handwritten: Benjamin Waterhouse M.D. / born in Newport R.I. March 4th, 1754 / died in Cambridge, Mass. Oct. 2nd 1846 / Elected Professor Physics & Surgery at Harvard 1783 / Worked under Dr. Edward Jenner in 1799 on vaccination / which he introduced after much opposition into / America. To prove his belief he vaccinated his two / children and placed them in a Small Pox Hospital / Resigned his Professorship in 1812. Was appointed / by Jefferson in 1813 Superintendent of the / Military Posts of New England / Founded the Botanical Garden / Married the daughter of Chief Justice Oliver / 2nd Wife the daughter of Thomas Lee.
  • label: taped to upper back of panel, ink on paper, handwritten: This portrait of Prof Benj'n Waterhouse, / painted by Frothingham, was bequeathed / to the college by Mrs. Waterhouse, & received / at the college library. After ?ing there / several months, it was loaned to Mrs. Ware, / Dr. Waterhouse's daughter, during her lifetime. / Gore Hall, 16 Sept., 1864 / John Langdon Sibley, Librarian. [Yellowed label is held to back of panel by plastic sleeve.]
  • inscription: across center back of panel, black paint, hand painted: Dr. Waterhouse, /AEt. 77 1831 [large, beautiful lettering.]
  • inscription: on verso: Dr. Waterhouse,/AEt. 77 1831
Louisa (Lee) Waterhouse, wife of the sitter; her gift to Harvard College, 1863; loaned in 1864 to the sitter's daughter, Mary Waterhouse (Mrs. William) Ware; returned to Harvard College, probably upon her death in 1872.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard University Portrait Collection, Gift of Mrs. Benjamin (Louisa) Waterhouse to Harvard College, 1863
Object Number
European and American Art
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Publication History

Boston Athenaeum. Fine Arts Department., exh. cat. (1831), cat. 192

John B. Blake, "Benjamin Waterhouse", The Journal of Medical Education (Washington, D.C., 1957)

Louise Todd Ambler, Early Science at Harvard: Innovators and Their Instruments, 1765 - 1865, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, December 1969-January 1970), pp. 40, 75-76, cat. 41

Alvin Powell, "The Beginning of the End of Small Pox.", The Harvard University Gazette (May 20, 1999), ill.

"A Box of Pox.", Harvard Magazine (May-June 2003), 84 ill.

Theodore E. Stebbins, Jr. and Melissa Renn, American Paintings at Harvard, Volume One: Paintings, Watercolors, and Pastels by Artists Born before 1826, Yale University Press (U.S.) and Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge and New Haven, 2014), pp. 213-215, cat. 164, ill.

Exhibition History

Early Science at Harvard, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 12/18/1969 - 02/01/1970

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