Pratt, Joseph Bishop (DNB12)

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PRATT, JOSEPH BISHOP (1854–1910), engraver, son of Anthony Pratt, a printer of mezzotints, by his wife Ann Bishop, was born at 4 College Terrace, Camden New Town, London, N., on 1 Jan. 1854. In 1868 he was apprenticed to David Lucas, with whom he remained five years. The first plate for which he received a commission, 'Maternal Felicity,' after Samuel Carter, was published in Dec. 1873. For the firms of Agnew, Graves, Lefèvre, Leggatt, and Tooth he engraved many plates of animal subjects after Landseer, Briton Riviere, Peter Graham, Rosa Bonheur, whom he visited at Fontainebleau, and others; these were varied occasionally by figure subjects and landscapes after Constable and Cox. Pratt's early engravings were chiefly in the ’mixed' manner, a combination of etching, line work and mezzotint, but a second period in his career began in 1896, from which date he confined himself to pure mezzotint, and almost exclusively to subjects after the English painters of the Georgian era, who had then come into fashion. Plates commissioned in that year and published in 1897 by Messrs. Agnew after Raeburn's 'Mrs. Gregory' and Lawrence's 'Mrs. Cuthbert' met with great success, and Pratt was thenceforth much employed by the same firm in engraving pictures by Gainsborough, Reynolds, Romney, Hoppner, and their contemporaries. In doing so, he limited himself to subjects that had not been engraved before. He continued to engrave for Messrs. Tooth a series of subjects after Peter Graham, R.A., and he was selected by Sir Luke Fildes. R.A., to engrave the state portraits of Edward VII (1902) and Queen Alexandra (1906). One of his last important plates, 'The Countess of Warwick and her Children,' after Romney, was published by Messrs. P. and D. Colnaghi in 1909. Pratt purchased from the widow of Thomas Oldham Barlow [q. v. Suppl. I], their late possessor, the set of mezzotinter's tools that had been used by Samuel Cousins. Exhibitions of Pratt's engravings held by Messrs. Agnew at Manchester and Liverpool in 1902, and by Messrs. Vicars in Bond Street in 1904, proved him to be the foremost reproductive engraver of his time. A considerable, though incomplete, collection of his work is in the British Museum. Pratt long resided at Harpenden, Hertfordshire, but removed in 1907 to Brenchley, Kent. Pratt died in London, after an operation, on 23 Dec. 1910. He had six children by his marriage, on 26 August 1878, to Caroline Almader James, who survived him; his eldest son, Stanley Claude Pratt, born on 9 June 1882, an engraver, was pupil of his father; his first plate was published in 1904.

|[The Times, 24 Dec. 1910; Daily Telegraph, 1 Jan. 1911; Exhibition Catalogues; lists of the Printsellers' Association; private information.]

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