Eliza Pratt Greatorex

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Eliza Pratt Greatorex
Eliza Pratt Greatorex.jpg
Portrait of Eliza Pratt Greatorex (1869) by Ferdinand Thomas Lee Boyle. Credit National Academy of Design, New York
Born Eliza Pratt
(1819-12-25)December 25, 1819
Manorhamilton, Ireland
Died February 9, 1897(1897-02-09) (aged 77)
Paris, France
Nationality American
Known for Painting
Movement Hudson River School
Spouse(s) Henry Wellington Greatorex (m. 1849–58)[1]

Eliza Pratt Greatorex (December 25, 1819 – February 9, 1897) was an Irish-born American artist who was affiliated with the Hudson River School. She is known for her landscape paintings as well as for several series of pen-and-ink drawings and etchings that were published in book form. She was the second woman to be elected an associate of the National Academy of Design, following Ann Hall.

Family and education[edit]

Eliza Pratt was born in Manorhamilton, Ireland, the daughter of James Calcott Pratt, a Methodist minister.[2][3] The family moved to New York in 1840, where in 1849 she married Henry Wellington Greatorex, a musician.[4] They had three children: two daughters, Elizabeth Eleanor and Kathleen Honora — both of whom would grow up to become artists — and a son, Thomas, who is said to have died in Colorado, possibly during her 1873 trip.[5]

Between 1854 and 1856, she studied art with the painters William Wallace Wotherspoon and James Hart and his brother William in New York,[2][6] and by 1855 she had begun exhibiting sketches.[6] However, it was only when Greatorex was widowed in 1858 that she was able to pursue art full time,[6][7] and she subsequently supported herself and her children through sales of her art and through teaching for 15 years at a girls' school.[6][8]

In 1861-62, she studied with the painter Émile Lambinet outside Paris.[2] In 1870, she traveled to Germany with her daughters and they studied at the Pinakothek in Munich.[3][6] In 1879, dissatisfied with commercial reproductions of her work, she went to Paris to study engraving with Charles Henri Toussaint.[3][6] From then on, she and her daughters were based out of Paris.[6]

Bay of Naples, Italy, etching by Eliza Pratt Greatorex

Art career[edit]

Greatorex first became known as a landscape painter of the Hudson River School.[2] She often worked en plein air, and her landscapes reflect her careful observation of her environment.[8] Her best-known paintings are View on the Houstonic (1863), The Forge (1864), and Somerindyke House (1869).[2] One series of paintings was executed on panels taken from specific churches; these include Bloomingdale Church and The North Dutch Church (painted on panels taken from the North Dutch Church on Fulton Street in New York City) and St. Paul's Church, painted on a panel taken from that church.[citation needed]

After a few years, Greatorex turned away from painting and devoted herself primarily to pen-and-ink sketches and etchings, many of which appeared in book form.[9] The bulk of her sketches were made during several trips to Europe in the 1860s and 1870s and tend toward conventional views of buildings and landscapes. In 1870–1872, she visited Nuremberg and Ober-Ammergau, Germany; Munich, Austria; and various parts of Italy. The Nuremberg and Ober-Ammergau trips led to the publication of Etchings in Nuremberg (1873) and The Homes of Ober-Ammergau (1873).[2] Her large pen-and-ink drawing of Albrecht Durer's house in Nuremberg is now in the Vatican in Rome.[6]

In the summer of 1873, she traveled around the western United States with her daughters and published a series of etchings from her sojourn in Colorado.[2] The preface was written by Sara Jane Lippincott.

With an eye to America's upcoming centennial, Greatorex published a book of drawings of old New York buildings in 1875, with a commentary by her sister Matilda.[6] Some of the sketches from this series were included in the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia.[6]

In 1868 she was elected an associate of the National Academy of Design, becoming the second woman to receive that recognition after Ann Hall, who had died some six years earlier.[6] She was also a member of the Artists' Fund Society of New York.[6]

During the 1870s and 1880s, she frequently exhibited her work at the Paris Salon, the National Academy of Design (New York), and at venues in Washington and Boston.[6][7]

She died in Paris in 1897.

Greatorex's work was included in a 2010 exhibition by the Thomas Cole National Historical Site and Hawthorne Fine Art entitled Remember the Ladies: Women of the Hudson River School.[8]


These books by Greatorex include portfolios of her work.[4][2]

  • Relics of Manhattan: A Series of Photographs from Pen and Ink Sketches Taken on the Spot (1869)
  • The Homes of Ober-Ammergau: A Series of Twenty Etchings in Heliotype, from the Original, Pen-and-Ink Drawings, Together with Notes from a Diary (1872)
  • Summer Etchings in Colorado (1873)
  • Old Landmarks of New York (1874?)
  • Old New York, from the Battery to Bloomingdale (1875)


  1. ^ "Eliza Greatorex". History of American Women. Retrieved 7 June 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Wikisource-logo.svg Ripley, George; Dana, Charles A., eds. (1879). "Greatorex, Eliza". The American Cyclopædia. p. 183. 
  3. ^ a b c Willard, Frances E., and Mary A. Livermore, eds. A Woman of the Century: Fourteen Hundred-Seventy Biographical Sketches Accompanied by Portraits of Leading American Women in All Walks Of Life. Moulton, 1893, pp. 335-36.
  4. ^ a b Curran, Thomas J. "Greatorex, Eliza Pratt". In Litoff, Judy Barrett, and Judith McDonnell, eds. European Immigrant Women in the United States: A Biographical Dictionary, pp. 120-21.
  5. ^ "Eleanor Greatorex". Smithsonian American Art Museum. Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 23 December 2015. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m James, Edward T., Janet Wilson James, and Paul S. Boyer. Notable American women, 1607-1950: a biographical dictionary. Vol. 3. Harvard University Press, 1972, p. 77.
  7. ^ a b Dearinger, David Bernard. Paintings and Sculpture in the Collection of the National Academy of Design. National Academy of Design, p. 62.
  8. ^ a b c Siegel, Nancy, and Krieger, Jennifer. "Remember the Ladies: Women of the Hudson River School". Thomas Cole National Historic Site, 2010. (Exhibition catalog.)
  9. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg Rines, George Edwin, ed. (1920). "Greatorex, Eliza Pratt". Encyclopedia Americana. }