Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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PRATT, Matthew, artist, born in Philadelphia, 23 September, 1734; died there, 9 January, 1805. He received a common-school education, and at the age of fifteen was apprenticed to his uncle, James Claypoole, from whom he learned "all the different branches of the painting business, particularly portrait-painting." He remained in Philadelphia until 1757, when he embarked for Jamaicaon some mercantile enterprise. The following year he returned home, and began to pursue regularly the profession of a portrait-painter. About 1764 he went to England and became the pupil of Benjamin West. Four years were spent there in study and the practice of his profession, after which he returned to Philadelphia. He made another trip abroad in 1770, visiting Ireland and England, and after that did not leave his native city again. His portraits, in the execution of which he proved himself an artist of undoubted talent, include those of Reverend Archdeacon Mann, of Dublin, the Duke of Portland, the Duchess of Manchester, Governor Andrew Hamilton, and Governor Cadwalader Colden, of New York (1772). He painted also "The London School of Artists," which Thomas Sully pronounced well executed. Pratt, probably finding portrait-painting not sufficiently remunerative, occupied himself at intervals with the painting of signs. Many of his contemporaries have attested the fine execution of these sign-boards.
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