Christopher Pratt

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Christopher Pratt

John Christopher Pratt

(1935-12-09)December 9, 1935
DiedJune 5, 2022(2022-06-05) (aged 86)
Salmonier, St. Mary's Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
EducationMount Allison University, Glasgow School of Art
Known forPainting, printmaking
  • (m. 1957; div. 2005)
  • Jeanette Meehan
    (m. 2007; div. 2015)
Children4; including Barbara and Ned

John Christopher Pratt, CC ONL D.Litt. (December 9, 1935 – June 5, 2022)[1] was a Canadian painter and printmaker.[2] He was noted for designing the flag of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Early life and education[edit]

Pratt was born in St. John's, Newfoundland,[3] on December 9, 1935.[4] He first started painting watercolours in 1952 and won the provincial government's Arts and Letters Competition for his piece titled Shed in a Storm. He initially studied pre-engineering at Memorial University of Newfoundland in the autumn of 1952[3] before relocating to New Brunswick the following year to study pre-medicine at Mount Allison University. However, he quickly became interested in Fine Arts, especially painting. He was encouraged to paint by Lawren P. Harris and Alex Colville.[2][3]

From 1957 to 1959, Pratt studied at the Glasgow School of Art in Scotland.[5] During the summers, he returned to Newfoundland to work as a construction surveyor at the American Naval Base at Argentia. The training he received in precise measuring was applied to his paintings. In 1959 Pratt returned to Mount Allison University to complete in 1961 a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. During this period he began to make silkscreen prints. The early screen print Boat in Sand, 1961 in the National Gallery's collection was produced at this time and included in the Gallery's fourth Biennial Exhibition.[6] The praise it received from the biennial jury launched Pratt's career.[7]


Provincial flag of Newfoundland and Labrador, designed by Pratt and adopted in 1980

Pratt's subjects include nudes, landscapes, portraits, and domestic interiors.[7] In 1995, he said about his work:

I have a profound sense of the power of ordinariness, and of ordinary things ... I mean ordinary in the sense that this is a person, place or thing that has nothing going for it but the fact of its own existence, the fact that it is....[7]

In making prints, Pratt worked from studies to the silkscreen, using abstracted collages.[8]

In 1961, Pratt accepted the position of curator at the newly opened Memorial University Art Gallery in St. John's. He remained at the gallery for two and a half years before deciding to concentrate on his painting full-time, moving his family to Salmonier, Newfoundland.[9]

His work was the subject of a major touring retrospective organized by the Vancouver Art Gallery in 1985, a touring print retrospective and catalogue raisonné, The Prints of Christopher Pratt: 1958-1991 in 1992, a major traveling retrospective exhibition organized by the National Gallery of Canada in 2005,[10][11] and a ten-year retrospective of his work at The Rooms in 2015.[12]

Pratt has served on the Canadian government's Stamp Design Advisory Committee from 1972 to 1975 and on the board of the Canada Council for the Arts from 1975 to 1981. In 1980, Pratt designed the Provincial Flag of Newfoundland and Labrador.[6] His work is found in the public collections of the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa,[13] the Vancouver Art Gallery,[14] The Rooms, and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.[15][16]

Personal life[edit]

Pratt met artist Mary West at Mount Allison University.[17] They married in 1957 and had four children: John, Anne, Barbara, and Ned.[18] The couple divorced in 2007.[18] He later married Jeanette Meehan, who was his studio assistant, in 2007. [19]

Pratt lived and worked in the community of St. Catherine's, in a region often referred to simply as Salmonier, Mount Carmel by the Salmonier River, at the head of St. Mary's Bay, from 1963 until his death.[20] He died on the morning of June 5, 2022, at his home in Salmonier River. He was 86 years old.[15][21]


  • Boat in Sand (1961)[22]
  • Good Friday (1973)[23]
  • March Night (1976)[24]
  • March Crossing (1977)[25]
  • Benoit's Cove: Sheds in Winter (1998)[26]

Awards and honours[edit]

Pratt became an associate of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts (ARCA) and a member of the Canadian Society of Graphic Art in 1965, at the age of 30.[6][27] Eight years later, he was appointed an officer of the Order of Canada, before becoming a companion of the Order in 1983.[6][28] He was awarded the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador in 2018.[29]

Pratt was awarded an honorary doctorate by Memorial University of Newfoundland in 1972.[30]

In 2018, Pratt was the subject of Kenneth J. Harvey's documentary film Immaculate Memories: The Uncluttered Worlds of Christopher Pratt.[31]


  1. ^ Lindsay Bird, Christopher Pratt, legendary Canadian painter, dead at 86 June 5, 2022, CBC
  2. ^ a b "John Christopher Pratt" Archived December 21, 2018, at the Wayback Machine. The Canadian Encyclopedia, April 8, 2009.
  3. ^ a b c "Christopher Pratt". Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage. Memorial University. July 2013. Retrieved June 7, 2022.
  4. ^ Bishop-Gwyn, Carol (October 8, 2019). Art and Rivalry: The Marriage of Mary and Christopher Pratt. Knopf Canada. ISBN 9780345808448.
  5. ^ Creative Canada: A Biographical Dictionary of Twentieth-century Creative and Performing Artists (Volume 1). University of Toronto Press. December 15, 1971. ISBN 9781442637832 – via Google Books.
  6. ^ a b c d "Christopher Pratt". National Gallery of Canada. Archived from the original on January 18, 2012. Retrieved April 5, 2012.
  7. ^ a b c Murray, Joan (1999). Canadian Art in the Twentieth Century. Toronto: Dundurn Press. p. 186-187. Retrieved June 5, 2022.
  8. ^ Zemans, Joyce (1985). Christopher Pratt: A Retrospective. Vancouver: Vancouver Art Gallery. Retrieved November 4, 2021.
  9. ^ "Christopher Pratt". AGNL. Archived from the original on March 7, 2009. Retrieved March 19, 2009.
  10. ^ "Christopher Pratt: Six Decades". Firefly Books. Retrieved November 11, 2021.
  11. ^ "Mira Godard Gallery Artists: Christopher Pratt". Mira Godard Gallery. Archived from the original on February 8, 2012. Retrieved April 5, 2012.
  12. ^ "Christopher Pratt: The Places I Go - The Rooms". Archived from the original on November 3, 2016. Retrieved November 1, 2016.
  13. ^ "Christopher Pratt".
  14. ^ "Vancouver Art Gallery's Lights Out! paints 1960s Canada". The Georgia Straight. March 13, 2012.
  15. ^ a b Ahsan, Sadaf (June 5, 2022). "Christopher Pratt, prominent Canadian painter and printmaker, dies at 86". CTV News. The Canadian Press. Retrieved June 7, 2022.
  16. ^ "Christopher Pratt". Artnet. Retrieved June 7, 2022.
  17. ^ "Life and Times". Archived from the original on February 7, 2008. Retrieved March 19, 2009.
  18. ^ a b "East Coast painter Mary Pratt found 'little truths' in everyday objects" – via The Globe and Mail.
  19. ^ Lownsbrough, John (January–February 2020). "Artistic Marriage Licence". Literary Review of Canada. Retrieved June 7, 2022.
  20. ^ Streets of Toronto, 'Yorkville gallery to open exhibition of Christopher Pratt paintings this month', September 7, 2017. Accessed June 5, 2022.
  21. ^ Bird, Lindsay (June 5, 2022). "Christopher Pratt, legendary Canadian painter, dead at 86". CBC News. Retrieved June 7, 2022.
  22. ^ "Boat in Sand".
  23. ^ "Vernissage: The Magazine of the National Gallery of Canada". National Gallery of Canada. May 18, 2003 – via Google Books.
  24. ^ "Desolation, with a hint of the uncanny" – via The Globe and Mail.
  25. ^ "March Crossing".
  26. ^ "Christopher Pratt - Drawing From Memory".
  27. ^ "Members since 1880". Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. Archived from the original on May 26, 2011. Retrieved September 11, 2013.
  28. ^ "Mr. J. Christopher Pratt". The Governor General of Canada. Retrieved June 7, 2022.
  29. ^ "Christopher Pratt, Kaetlyn Osmond to receive order of Newfoundland and Labrador". CBC News. December 31, 2018. Retrieved June 7, 2022.
  30. ^ Timmons, Vianne (June 7, 2022). "Expression of sympathy". Memorial University Gazette. Memorial University of Newfoundland. Retrieved June 9, 2022.
  31. ^ Smellie, Sarah (August 30, 2018). "New documentary explores the order and disorder of N.L. painter Christopher Pratt". CBC News. The Canadian Press. Retrieved June 7, 2022.

External links[edit]