Rutherford is one of the most important Northern artists, and one whose influence and CV we are unlikely ever to see again. He connects the pre World War I British Art movement, to Lancashire industrial art made famous by Lowry, to the modern wave of painters from the North-West exemplified by Geoffrey Key, with a link to the St Ives School along the way.
Rutherford was a pupil of Walter Sickert, who was an important influence on British Art in the 20th Century, and he was also a pupil of Adolphe Valette and a fellow student of LS Lowry and James Fitton RA. Rutherford went on to teach, amongst others, Geoffrey Key. He was a President of the Manchester Academy of Fine Arts and pioneered live art on television, hosting his on BBC programmes in the 1930s, 40s and 50s.
Rutherford's work is held in several public art collections including: The Royal Academy, Manchester Art Gallery, The Atkinson Gallery, Gallery Oldham and Rochdale Art Gallery. In 2008 Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council opened an exhibition space in Hyde Library to display permanently the town's collection of Rutherford works. There are two Blue Plaques for Rutherford in his home town of Hyde.