Biography: Born in Salt Lake City, George Watson Barratt was an illustrator, painter, cartoonist, interior decorator, and theatrical scene designer and art director. After graduating from his local East High School in 1903, he moved to New York and studied at the (William Merritt) Chase School of Art for two years, where he won first prize in an illustration class. In 1908, while working as an advertising artist and after hearing Howard Pyle lecture at the Art Students League, Barratt moved to Wilmington DE to study with him.
Barratt enjoyed a long career drawing cartoons and cover designs for such magazines as Life, Harper's Bazaar, Harper's Weekly, and The Saturday Evening Post. He also illustrated several stories that appeared in various periodicals.
Barratt was best known for his work in the theater. As a theatrical art director, he designed settings, laid out construction and color plans, supervised lighting, and selected costumes. In 1912, he began designing sets for regional theaters, and by 1918 he had designed his first Broadway set for Al Jolson in Sinbad. Around the same time, he became art director for the Shubert Organization, where he designed every show at their Winter Garden theater for ten years, slowing thereafter to several shows a year.
He continued working in New York for such entertainers as Al Jolson, Ethel Barrymore, and Florenz Ziegfeld, and in 1924, he designed the set for the debut of Sigmund Romberg's new play The Student Prince. In 1932, Barratt became art director for the St. Louis Municipal Opera. He returned to New York in 1934, where he stayed for the next seven years doing such shows as The Lady Has a Heart, starring Vincent Price, and The Importance of Being Earnest, starring Clifton Webb.
In 1938 Barratt became co-producer of the Community Playhouse at Spring Lake, New Jersey. He worked there on summer shows until 1940, and then returned to St. Louis to resume his position as art director at the Opera, where he remained until 1951.
During his 50-year career as a set designer, Barratt decorated over 1,000 shows, both on and off Broadway, as well as abroad. He also decorated the interiors of several restaurants, including as The Latin Quarter, the Cafe de Paris, the Lanai on Broadway, and Michael Todd's Theater Cafe in Chicago. He staged productions in London and Paris, and In addition to creating sets and interiors, he designed sets, interiors, and concessions for both the New York and Brussels World Fairs in 1940 and 1958.
At 36, Barratt married Louise Rand Bascom, an author whose stories he had illustrated. She died in 1951. Barratt died July 6, 1962, at the age of 78. They had no children.
George Watson Barratt Papers, University of Wisconsin: