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Featured Artist: Douglas Fieldew Pratt (Australia, 1900-1972)

douglas pratt artist australian art auction central coast gosford wyong

Douglas Pratt was born in Katoomba, New South Wales, in the year 1900, within the confines of the Congregational Church manse where his father, Reverend Frederick Vicary Pratt, held the position of resident minister. Later, in 1907, the Pratt family itinerating ministry was to relocate to Angaston, South Australia. These early years spent in both the dramatic landscapes of the Blue Mountains and the rolling foothills of the Barossa Ranges would lay the foundation for a lifelong love affair with the beauty of the great outdoors.

His initial foray into the working world led him to a role as a jackeroo on a rural estate near Singleton, New South Wales. It was in this rugged countryside that he likely cemented his deep affection and connection with the natural landscape. Amid the rustic beauty of the countryside, he honed his appreciation for the sweeping vistas, the rustic charm of rural life, and the deep connection between the land and its people.

However, Pratt later transitioned to urban life in Sydney, where he achieved licensure as a surveyor in 1922 and in 1925, he found employment as a detail surveyor with the Metropolitan Water, Sewerage & Drainage Board. It was in the bustling heart of Sydney during the 1920s that Pratt's artistic talents began to bloom and one of his colleagues at the MWS & DB, upon glimpsing some of his artistry, encouraged him to nurture his drawing and painting talents.

Encouraged by early sales of his art, Pratt was motivated to pursue artistic education. He enrolled in the Royal Art Society's drawing classes and received guidance from the celebrated Sydney Long at his Etching School. It was during these formative years that Pratt showcased his versatility, mastering various artistic mediums, including oils, watercolours, pencil, and etchings.

The pivotal moment in Pratt's career came in 1928 when he unveiled his inaugural exhibition at the Macquarie Galleries in Sydney. The display of his art was met with both critical acclaim and public admiration. With each stroke of his brush and etching tool, he captured the heart and soul of Australia's diverse landscapes, enchanting viewers with the evocative beauty of the country. Subsequent exhibitions of his etchings and pencil drawings spread like wildfire,

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New Guinea. Douglas Pratt at work in the outdoors. He holds his pipe while working at his rough easel leaning against a wooden box, his palette resting on his left leg. (public domain, AWM)

creating waves of admiration that traversed the continent. His artworks were now gracing the walls of prestigious galleries in Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth, solidifying his status as a distinguished Australian artist.

Following the outbreak of World War II, Pratt dutifully served in the Australian Army, particularly in the War Graves division, with deployments in New Guinea. His military service saw him attain the rank of Captain.

In 1953, Douglas Pratt's dedication to the world of art earned him a prestigious appointment to the Commonwealth Art Advisory Board in Canberra, a role he would proudly hold until his passing in 1972. His unwavering commitment to the promotion and preservation of art was not only commendable but also instrumental in shaping the nation's cultural identity. In recognition of his exceptional service, Pratt was bestowed with the Order of the British Empire (OBE), a testament to his tireless efforts in the realm of art advocacy.

Throughout his illustrious career, Pratt remained deeply connected to the Royal Art Society of New South Wales, serving as its Vice-President. For over two decades, he was an active and influential member of the society, nurturing and guiding the next generation of artists while championing the artistic heritage of New South Wales.

Douglas Pratt's legacy is assured in the enduring beauty of his artworks, in the galleries that proudly display his masterpieces, and in the hearts of those who continue to draw inspiration from his passion for the Australian landscape. He was a formidable artist, advocate, and cultural steward who left an indelible mark on the canvas of Australian art history.

His work 'Road To The Hills, Monaro' will feature in our upcoming Australian & International Art auction.

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