Matthew Pratt (1734-1805) was from Philadelphia. He was the nephew and apprentice of the Philadelphia painter James Claypoole. Pratt painted portraits in Philadelphia as early as the late 1750s, but his earliest work dates to ca. 1760-1763. Pratt studied art in London with Benjamin West, a fellow Philadelphian and cousin by marriage, from 1764-1768. He returned to the colonies in 1768 and painted portraits in Philadelphia, New York, and Virginia. Pratt traveled to Virginia in 1773.
Advertisements appear in the Virginia Gazette:
“Mr. Pratt, Portrait Painter, Lately from England and Ireland, But last from New York, Has brought with him to Williamsburg a small but very neat Collection of Paintings, which are now exhibiting at Mrs. Vobe’s near the Capitol; among which are, first, a very good Copy of Corregio’s St. Jerome, esteemed to be one of the best Pictures in Italy, and ranks next to Raphael’s Transfiguration, Secondly, Venus and Cupid, the only Copy from an original Picture by Mr. West, whose rising Reputation has already done great Honour to America. Thirdly, a Holy Family. Fourthly, a Copy of Guido’s Jupiter and Europa, from the Original in the Collection of a Gentleman who travelled through Italy with Lord Northampton. Fifthly, Flora, a Companion to the above. Sixthly, a very fine Fruit Piece. The above Pictures are to be disposed of at the Prices to be fixed on each Picture, on Saturday the 13th Instant, with a Number of choice Prints. —Mr. Pratt has a few Copies of some of Mr. West’s best Portraits, to be seen with the above every Day from ten o’Clock till five.” in 4 March 1773, Virginia Gazette (Purdie and Dixon), 3.
Repeats part of above advertisement. Addendum: “The above Pictures are to be disposed of as they hang up at Mrs. Vobe’s, by Way of Auction, to the highest Bidder, on Saturday Morning the 13th Instant, at eleven o’Clock, as Mr. Pratt intends to leave the City on Tuesday next, on his Way to Jamaica, if no farther Business should offer by that Time.” in 11 March 1773, Virginia Gazette (Purdie and Dixon), 3.
Repeats part of first advertisement. “…at Mrs. Vobe’s near the Capitol, the Prices of which may be known by applying to Mr. Lockley, at the Bar; and as it is likely Mr. Pratt will continue some Time in this Colony, if any Gentlemen or Ladies are desirous to employ him, and will please to leave a Line for him at the Post Office in Williamsburg, with their Directions, he will endeavour to wait on them in his Way down from the Place where he is at present employed, near Richmond, as he intends to spend the Summer Months at Hampton.” in 18 March 1773, Virginia Gazette (Purdie and Dixon), 3.