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 David Shepherd  (1931 - )

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Lived/Active: England/Africa      Known for: large wild animal in landscape painting

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Richard David Shepherd CBE FRSA (born 25 April 1931) is a British artist and one of the world's most outspoken conservationists.  He is most famous for his paintings of wildlife, although he also often paints steam railways, aircraft and landscapes.  His work has been extremely popular since the 1960s in limited edition print reproduction and poster form, as well as other media such as Wedgwood limited edition plates.  He has written five books about his art.

David Shepherd was born in Hendon, London, England. As a child he lived in Totteridge, North London, and he won a childrens' painting competition in a magazine called Nursery World when he was eight years old.  He then attended Stowe School in Buckinghamshire. Upon leaving school he traveled to Kenya with the hope of becoming a game warden, but was rejected.  He returned to the UK but was rejected by the Slade School of Fine Art in London.

However, he was taken in by the artist Robin Goodwin who trained him for three years. Neal Brown said in Frieze magazine: "David Shepherd is one of the most financially rewarded painters in the UK, but his critical status is less than negligible.  Although considered the supreme master of Bad Art, Shepherd has brought pleasure to millions, as seen on the many table mats, posters and commemorative plates that bear his work." David Gower said, "There is a sense of the atmosphere of the African bush that emanates from all his work."

He became interested in conservation during an early expedition into the African bush, where he discovered a poisoned water hole with a large number of dead zebra.  He has since become an outspoken world-known campaigner, and devotes much of his time to this.  He is also a steam railway enthusiast, but said in a letter to the UK Railway Magazine, "you can always build another steam loco but you can't build another tiger."  One of his best known paintings is called Tiger in The Sun, painted in 1977.  He is also known for his paintings of elephants.

He is the founder of the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation.  He received an Order of the British Empire, dated 31 December 1979 "for services to the conservation of wildlife."  He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2008 Birthday Honours for services to charity and wildlife conservation.

Shepherd owns a number of steam locomotives.  His 9F "Black Prince" 92203 is based at the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway.  In South Africa his 15F (#3052), presented to him by Spoornet in 1991, is stored at Sandstone Estates in Ficksburg.  It has carried various names, including "City of Germiston" and, more recently, his wife's name, "Avril".  It was moved to Ficksburg in light steam from Pietermaritzburg by Friends of the Rail (a Pretoria-based heritage steam association) in April 2003 and it steamed again in April 2006, when Friends of the Rail operated it for several trips between Ficksburg and Komandonek with Shepherd on board.

He also owns two Zambian locomotives from the Mulobezi Railway, given to him by then President Kenneth Kaunda. One is still in the railway museum in Livingstone, Zambia, the other located on the Sandstone Estates complex in South Africa. Shepherd donated the other[clarification needed], along with a coach, to the National Railway Museum in York in the UK, where it is in store awaiting restoration. All his African locomotives are British-built. He has also painted locomotives at Mulobezi.

Shepherd was involved in founding a heritage steam railway in the UK, the East Somerset Railway, where the signal box at Cranmore Station has become a small gallery displaying his work. He is also President of the "Railway Ramblers"


This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Master wildlife artist David Shepherd has spent over 50 years painting African animals, historic trains, British warships, fighter plains, Middle Eastern desert scenes, and human portraits.

Shepherd paints only for commissions and the waiting list for collectors is years long.

David Shepherd is also a conservationist working to protect large animals all around the world. He began his mission after seeing a large group of zebras slaughtered by poachers in Tanzania in the 1960s. The David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation has given over four million dollars to projects in Africa and Asia for endangered mammals.

Source: Wildlife Art, March/April 2002

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