English, active mid-18th Century
The 'St. Albans' Floated out at Deptford, after John Cleveley the Elder
Signed Willm Pratt Pinx and dated 1750 Greenwich (lr)
Oil on canvas
47 x 74 inches (119.4 x 187.9 cm)
The Nelson Doubleday, Jr. Collection
This work is a close replica of a painting by John Cleveley the Elder now in the collection of the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, England. Unusual for copies, it is larger than the original, which was painted in 1747. William Pratt's style and technique here are so close to Cleveley's that it seems likely that he learned his art in that master's studio. Only one other painting by this rare artist is known, Landscape with Figures in Classical Ruins, signed as here and dated 1769, which is in the Lady Lever Art Gallery in Liverpool.
A review of residents named William Pratt living in Greenwich in the mid-18th century reveals a shipwright/carpenter who lived there in the late 1740s; another shipwright mentioned in 1757; a rope-maker noted in the 1750s; and a ship's carpenter in 1764. There was also a printer of the same name working in London at this time. Nothing that we know about these men suggests that any of them was an artist. Since there are no records of exhibitions or art-related commercial activity from the period mentioning the name William Pratt, it may be that this painter was a gifted professional copyist, or perhaps, a gentleman amateur.
We would like to thank Pieter van der Merwe, Curator Emeritus at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, England, for his generous assistance in cataloguing this work, including information on the Pratts of Greenwich kindly provided by Osmund Bullock.
C The Nelson Doubleday, Jr. Collection
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