Rush Christopher Hawkins was a native of Pomfret, Vermont. When only 15 years of age, he enlisted to fight in the Mexican-American War. After the war, he studied law and made New York his home. In 1860, he married Annmary Brown, the granddaughter of Nicholas Brown, for whom Brown University was named in 1804. The Civil War would again call him to duty as Colonel of the 9th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment 4 May 1861, wounded in action at South Mills, Camden, NC on 19 April 1862, mustered out of service 30 May 1863. He was brevetted to the rank of Brigadier General of United States Volunteers 13 March 1865, for gallant and meritorious conduct during the war of the Rebellion.
Hawkins was a renowned book collector, specializing in early print editions, and as a noted art connoisseur and collector of early modern representational paintings. Catalogs of his extensive and exquisite collections were published. He felt committed to what he considered refining the American public's aesthetic sense and taste for fine art. He was appointed assistant "Commissaire Expert des Beaux Arts" for the United States Commission at the 1889 Universal Exposition in Paris. The rejection of ten of James McNeill Whistler's twenty-seven submissions for inclusion in the representative selection of American art caused an open dispute between Hawkins and Whistler. Their artistic feud was publicly conducted in the pages of the Paris edition of The New York Herald and later memorialized in Whistler's extended essay "The Gentle Art of Making Enemies". Christopher Rush Hawkins died at the age of 89, when he was struck by an automobile while crossing a street near his home in New York City.
Annmary Brown Hawkins
1837–1903 (m. 1860)