Liss Llewellyn Fine Art - 20th Century British Art

Raymond Sheppard (1913 - 1958)   BIOGRAPHY

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The Adventures of René Cutforth, c. 1956
Passe-partout (ref: 4461)

Pencil and gouache on card, 10 x 10 in. (25.5 x 25.5 cm.)


Literature: Raymond Sheppard, Master Illustrator, Liss Fine Art, November 2010, Cat.88

This original drawing appeared, with text added, in the January 1956 issue of Lilliput.   Lilliput was founded in 1937 by Stefan Lorant , (the photo journalist who later created Picture Post), with a subtitle of “The Pocket Magazine for Everyone.” Its original size was allegedly such that it could be slipped into a soldier’s trenchcoat and was no doubt read in many an air-raid shelter in that handy size. During its 23 year run the magazine contained the illustrations of Mervyn Peake, Eric Fraser, Frank Bellamy (of Dan Dare fame) and, perhaps most famously, Ronald Searle’s cartoon series St. Trinians. The magazine became known for its photographs too, with work by Brassai, Zoltan Glass and also Bill Brandt. The magazine subtitle was changed in September 1954 to “Lilliput is a Man’s Magazine” .
From a starting position of 216,562 in 1938 - double that of Punch at the time - by May 1959 Lilliput was only selling circa102,000 copies - number 277, July 1960, was the last issue at which point it was merged with Men Only. Sheppard was one of the most prominent illustrators of his generation working for comics such as Eagle, Girl, and Swift, and magazines such as Boy’s Own Paper, Lilliput, Everbody’s, Picture Post, and Reynolds News.

Between 1934 and 1958 Sheppard illustrated well over 100 books. The majority of these date from the 1950’s when Sheppard was often illustrating as many as ten a year – a prodigious rate tragically cut short by his death at the age of 45. Commissions from over fifteen publishing houses (Hutchinson, Blackie and Son, Macmillan, Oxford University Press, Faber and Faber) included illustrations for leading authors of the day such as Enid Blyton, (two books in 1948 as well contributing to a regular annual she wrote all the stories for), Jim Corbett (six titles between 1947 and 1955) and, perhaps most notable of all, a commission in 1952 (shared with Tunnicliffe) to illustrate Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea.

Raymond Sheppard (1913 - 1958)

Raymond Sheppard; Artist in water-colour, black and white, oil, pastel; Born London 3 March 1913; son of Edward and Annie Sheppard.  

Married Iris Gale on December 3rd 1942; had one daughter Christine born 17 March 1944, and one son Michael born 25th July 1946.  Educated Christ’s College, Finchley, north west London.

Studied art at Bolt Court under S.G. Boxsius.

Exhibited: R.A; R.I; R.S.A;  Work reproduced regularly in publications including Lilliput ; The Studio, Picture Post, John Bull, Everybody’s ; in children’s books, nature books and calendars.

Raymond Sheppard produced many studies of birds and animals from life, mainly at Regents Park Zoo and was made a Fellow of the Zoological Society in 1949. He also painted landscapes, family portraits, in watercolour, oil, and pastels . He was a founder member of the Wapping Arts Group, a group of artists who sketched and painted by and around the river Thames in London, which was formed just before WW2 but did not start in earnest until 1946.

Publications: How to Draw Birds (first published by Studio in 1940), Drawing at the Zoo (1949 Studio), More Birds to Draw (Studio 1956).
Lived in Kenton and then Harrow Weald, Middx.
Clubs: Chelsea Arts, Langham Sketch.

Raymond Sheppard died in London of cancer in 1958 with which he had battled since 1949. He also served in the RAF photographic section during the WW2. Despite long periods of ill health and the interruption of the War years he was, nevertheless, prolific in demonstrating his wide range of artistic ability as a master draughtsman, illustrator, and landscape and wildlife artist..

 Had Raymond Sheppard lived beyond his mid 40s his reputation
as one of the foremost illustrators of his generation might have
been secured – his premature death resulted in his name sinking
into obscurity for half a century.
Only his prolific career as an illustrator (nearly 100 children’s
books in the single decade following the end of WW2) has prevented
his name from disappearing altogether and secured him a
credible place in the standard reference works of the period. What
has never been appreciated before is the remarkable diversity of
Raymond Sheppard’s oeuvre. Aside from his more familiar studies
of wildlife his studio has revealed a series of remarkable portraits,
thrilling boy’s-own period illustrations, plein air seascapes,
landscapes, views of the Thames and surreal compositions, which
at times verge on abstraction. All have in common Sheppard’s
stated aim to express his inner emotion:
“...that peculiar, unexplainable tightening inside that makes you
want to laugh sometimes, sometimes to sing and dance for joy, and
sometimes just a little sad.

To read the full text, download the catalogue here :

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