As a woman distinguished for many "firsts" in American art, Eliza Pratt Greatorex is not as well known as she should be. She was one of the first women elected to the National Academy of Design, one of the country's earliest female illustrators, and one of the first women to record scenes of Colorado. Additionally, she was one of the only working female artists to see her Western subjects widely exhibited.
She was born in Ireland and immigrated with her family at the age of twenty. She had all ready studied painting and writing, and after her marriage in 1849, continued to do so. She submitted pen and ink drawings to the National Academy of Design in 1855, they were exhibited, and Greatorex would soon be elected a member.
With the unexpected death of her husband in 1858, she would begin to support her family through a teaching career, as well as through her paintings and drawings. She opened a studio on Broadway, and studied painting with some of the Hudson River School masters.
From 1861 and on she traveled extensively, along with her children, working in etching and painting depending upon the status of her health. She visited numerous locations in Europe, and headed into the American West, where she made numerous etchings of the Colorado landscape. She published a book of her work from the western trip in 1873, and another of her New York City scenes in 1878. She settled briefly at the Cragmoor Art Colony in New York, where she and her two daughters served as art teachers, and then settled permanently in Paris in 1885.
The National Academy of Design Museum in New York has several of her works in its collection.