The American School

Matthew Pratt (1734–1805)
Oil on canvas
36 x 50 1/4 in. (91.4 x 127.6 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Samuel P. Avery, 1897
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 747
The picture depicts a scene in the London studio of Benjamin West, who is generally agreed to be the figure standing at the left. Based on comparisons to self-portraits, Pratt is the man at the easel, an accomplished portrait painter. The identities of the other artists represented in the picture remain uncertain, but they are younger and they draw rather than paint. The composition explores the academic tradition as carried out among Americans in late-eighteenth century London.
#4326. The American School
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Signature: [at lower left of the painting on the easel]: M. Pratt / ad. 1765
the artist's son, Nathan Pratt, Philadelphia (until 1805); the artist's great-granddaughter, Rosalie V. Tiers Jackson, Philadelphia (by 1887); Samuel Putnam Avery Sr., New York (by 1896–97)