Mary Pratt was born in 1935 in Fredericton, New Brunswick. She is one of Canada's most respected realists. In 1957 she married Christopher Pratt a well-known painter and printmaker. They settled in Salmonier, Newfoundland, in 1963. Pratt graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, in 1961.
Although she had studied Fine Art, Pratt began to paint seriously only when her children reached school age. The first solo exhibition or her work (1967) was staged at Memorial University Art Gallery. Since then she has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions. Pratt is represented in art galleries and many university and corporate collections; such as the National Gallery of Canada.
Known for her perceptive use of light, Pratt's subject matter is mainly still lives of domestic objects and the female figure. The images in her paintings take on a realistic dimension and resemble a photograph. Her work is inspired by her own experience of managing a home and raising children. Much of her work expresses delight in the sensual qualities of everyday objects.
Pratt not only is a very successful painter but she is also known for various other activities. Pratt served on the government Task Force for Education in Newfoundland (1973), on the Fishery Industry Advisory Board (1978-79) and on the Board of Management of the Grace General Hospital, St, John's. She also served on the federal Cultural Policy Review Committee, which produced the Applebaum-Herbert Report(1981). Pratt chaired a committee to advise on the creation of the School of Fine Arts at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College in Corner Brook, Newfoundland (1985). Pratt has held numerous other positions, including a seat on the Canada Council (1987-93) and on the Board of Regents of Mount Allison University (1983-91).
Pratt has received honorary degrees form Memorial University and other universities across Canada. She was named Companion of the Order of Canada in 1996. In May 1998, Pratt was the recipient of the 1997 Molson Prize in the Arts awarded annually to two distinguished Canadians by the Canada Council for the Arts. Currently Pratt is a member of the Board of Directors of the Art Gallery of Newfoundland and Labrador.