A successful Massachusetts portrait artist, he was also well-known in the South where he spent many winter seasons. Records show that he was in Baltimore in 1804, Charleston in 1804, 1818, and 1822, in Richmond in 1809-1810, and in NewOrleans in 1816.
As a young man, Cephas Thompson carved a number of slate gravestones in the area around Bridgewater and Halifax, Massachusetts. 22 of these have been identified, dated approximately 1788 through 1803. One of these is signed. Most have distinctive winged faces ("cherubs") and some have willows and urns. Cephas' maternal uncle Isaac Thompson, Sr. (who was also his father-in-law), and whose portrait he painted, was also a gravestone carver, as were five of Cephas' cousin
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