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 Henry Cheevers Pratt  (1803 - 1880)

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Lived/Active: Massachusetts/California/New Hampshire      Known for: landscape-survey, portrait, genre

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Ad Code: 3
Henry Cheever Pratt
from Auction House Records.
View in the Canyon of the Coppermines, Santa Rita, NM
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Oxford, New Hampshire, Henry Pratt became a portrait and panoramic landscape painter whose primary reputation is for the work he completed as an artist for the 1850 U.S. Mexican Boundary Survey.

His talent was discovered by Samuel F.B. Morse who saw the young artist's paintings on a barn door and took him to Boston as his assistant. He also got him enrolled in the classes of Samuel Finley and then took him in 1819 and 1820 to Charleston, South Carolina as a painting assistant.

By 1825, Pratt had a studio in Boston where he was a successful portrait painter and exhibited at the Boston Athenaeum. He did numerous sketching trips into the nearby mountains with his good friend, Thomas Cole, who, like Morse, encouraged his interest in portraying sublime aspects of the landscape.

In 1851, Pratt joined John R. Bartlett's Mexican Boundary Survey as the official artist to depict the topography of the border region between the United States and Mexico. During this time, he did portraits of Bartlett and James Magoffin, another survey leader. However, Pratt fought with Bartlett, who omitted hundreds of Pratt's drawings and substituted his own, so Pratt published his own illustrated version.

In 1852 in San Diego, he held an exhibition of his canvases, oil paintings refined from his survey artist trips, and this exhibition was the first widely attended art show in California. He died in Wakefield, Massachusetts.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Orford, NH on June 13, 1803. While working on a farm in 1817, Pratt's artistic talent was discovered by Samuel F. B. Morse who took him to Boston as his assistant and taught him to paint. He was also greatly influenced by Thomas Cole with whom he often painted in the White Mountains. Pratt joined the Mexican Boundary Survey in 1851 as the official artist. In 1852 he exhibited his canvases in San Diego making it the first known art exhibition in California. He made a second trip to California in 1870 to paint in Yosemite. Pratt died in Wakefield, MA on Nov. 27, 1880. In: De Young Museum; LACMA; Texas Museum (Austin); Amon Carter Museum (Fort Knox).
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
New York Historical Society's Dictionary of Artists in America (Groce, George C. and David H. Wallace); West as Art cat.; California Historical Society Quarterly, vol. 15, 1932, p. 319; First 100 Years of Painting in California (J. Van Nostrand); Texas Painters (Powers).
Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here.

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