Matthew Pratt

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Matthew Pratt - Self Portrait, c. 1764

Matthew Pratt (September 23, 1734 – January 9, 1805) was an American "Colonial Era" artist famous for his portraits of American men and women. He was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to goldsmith Henry Pratt, (1708-1748) and Rebecca Claypoole, (1711-1762) (sister of James Claypoole Sr.), he was the second of eight children born to the Pratts.[1]


He was apprenticed to his uncle, artist James Claypoole (a limner and painter) from 1745 to 1755. From his uncle he learned different aspects of portrait painting (including business acumen).[2] In 1764 he escorted his cousin, Betsey Shewell to England for her marriage to the American "expatriate" artist Benjamin West. West was gaining a distinguished reputation in England. Pratt stayed on in England for two and a half years as a pupil and colleague to West. It was during this time that he painted one of his best known works "The American School".

Back in America[edit]

In March of 1768 he returned to America. Charles Willson Peale stated that at that time Matthew Pratt had a full-length portrait of John Dickinson and a considerable number of other works in progress. It was there that he met John Singleton Copley.[3]

Marriage and children[edit]

In 1760 he married Elizabeth Moore, (May 4, 1739 - July 7, 1777).[3] [4] Their children were:

  • Henry Charles Pratt (May 14, 1761 – 1838);
  • Charles Pratt, (September 10, 1763 – August 27, 1764);[5]
  • Charles Pratt, (February 18, 1769 – August 13, 1770);[5]
  • Mary Pratt, (July 20, 1771-?);[6]
  • Thomas Phyle Pratt, (October 1, 1773 – April 12, 1869); and,[7]
  • Elizabeth "Eliza" (née Pratt) Kugler, (August 2, 1776-?).

Later career[edit]

Pratt announced that he was recently returned from England and Ireland and also New York. [3][8]


He died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on January 9, 1805 and is buried in Christ Church Burial Ground. (An old historic burial ground established in 1695)[9]

Oil paintings - portraits[edit]

Hannah Stockton Boudinot (1736-1808), by Matthew Pratt
William Henry Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland
Thomas Paine by Matthew Pratt

Miniature portraits[edit]

  • T. Matthew Pratt (1790) watercolor on ivory 2 9/16" x 2 1/16" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Mrs. William Williamson (née Elizabeth Ann Timothy) (1775) watercolor and gouache on ivory 1 7/16" x 1 3/16" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Mrs. Clark (1770) watercolor on ivory 1 5/8" x 1 5/16" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Museums and public galleries[edit]

The following galleries have works by Matthew Pratt: