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David Shepherd

 (1931 - 2017)
David (Richard David) Shepherd was active/lived in England, Africa.  David Shepherd is known for large wild animal in landscape painting.

David Shepherd

Biography from the Archives of askART

Biography photo for David Shepherd
David Shepherd, Who Both Painted and Preserved Wildlife, Dies at 86
By Neil Genzlinger, September 25, 2017, Obituary, The New York Times

David Shepherd, a British artist whose love of painting wildlife led him to become a leading conservationist as well, died on Sept. 19 in Sussex, England. He was 86.
The cause was complications of Parkinson’s disease, an announcement by the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation said.

Mr. Shepherd was well known for his paintings of elephants, tigers and other wild animals of Africa and Asia, which he generally rendered in a straightforward, naturalistic style that may not have been appreciated in fine-art circles but did generate plenty of sales. He also loved to paint locomotives and military scenes with aircraft and other large machinery. An early-1970s BBC documentary about him was called The Man Who Loves Giants.

Mr. Shepherd, though, was not content merely to document the wildlife scenes he witnessed in his frequent travels. From an early trip to Tanzania, where he saw scores of dead zebras — victims of a watering hole poisoned by poachers — he became an advocate for wildlife as well as a painter of it. In 1984, he created the foundation that bears his name.

“David’s passion for wildlife and the role of man in its demise infuriated and inspired him,” Karen Botha, the chief executive of the fund, said in a statement. “He was dedicated, tenacious and outspoken, a champion of animals and the people who worked to protect them.”

Richard David Shepherd was born on April 25, 1931, in Hendon, a London suburb. His father worked in the hospitality business, and his mother was a farmer and horse breeder. His early career aspirations had nothing to do with art.

“I had one idea only when I was growing up in the 1930s: to go to Africa and be a game warden,” he said in a 2015 television interview. “I had never even been across the channel, so I had no qualifications whatsoever. So I hop into an airplane and fly out to Kenya in 1949 and knock on the door of the head game warden in Nairobi and say, ‘Can I be a game warden?’ And he said, ‘No, bugger off.’ And I came back to England with my world in ruins.”

He was fond of showing his first painting — birds over a turbulent sea — and telling the story of how it got him turned away from the Slade School of Fine Art in London. Then, at a cocktail party, he met Robin Goodwin, a professional painter, who invited Mr. Shepherd to bring his work to his studio for an evaluation.

“I wish I had had a tape recorder in my pocket, because he said something like, ‘Oh, my God, anybody who paints as badly as that, I’ve just got to teach him,’” Mr. Shepherd recalled in the 2015 interview. “He took me on as a challenge.”

One of his earliest professional assignments, in 1953, was to paint pictures of airplanes in London as they sat on the airport runway.

“I was learning the hard way, in all weathers, and the noise, and the dirt, and the perpetual wind that shook the canvas,” he said in The Man Who Loves Giants. “And they had a habit of towing the airplanes away when you were halfway through painting their portraits.”

He did well enough, however, that next came jobs for the Royal Air Force recreating World War II scenes, for which he flew in vintage planes and rode in tanks over battle sites. In 1960 the Air Force flew him to Africa to paint more airplane portraits, but soon he was painting elephants’ portraits instead.

He also received his first glimpses of poaching and other horrors visited upon wildlife, and he was not able to stay detached.

“Emotion is involved in a huge way, with a capital E, when you’ve seen an elephant, as I have, walking along on the road having blown his foot off, having trodden on a land mine,” he said.

Mr. Shepherd became an energetic fund-raiser for conservation causes, dedicating proceeds to the work from sales of some of his prints. In 1984 he formed his foundation, which has, among other things, created an elephant orphanage in Zambia, financed antipoaching campaigns in places like Uganda and worked to preserve a snow leopard habitat in Mongolia.

Mr. Shepherd’s survivors include his wife, Avril, whom he married in 1957; four daughters, Mandy, Melanie, Wendy and Melinda; nine grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

In addition to his portraits of animals, Mr. Shepherd painted some famous people, including Queen Elizabeth II. For that assignment he had been advised simply to wear his painting clothes. He did, realizing only after he was in the room with his subject that perhaps he seemed inappropriately slovenly, since he had a habit of wiping his brushes off on his right pant leg. The queen, though, adjusted graciously.

“It was one of the happiest commissions I’ve ever done in my life,” he said.

He also loved making portraits of steam engines, and he worked over the years to preserve that fading bit of history, acquiring several locomotives himself and helping to establish the East Somerset Railway, a heritage rail line. But, he acknowledged several years ago, when his foundation was kicking off a new initiative called Tiger Time, trains would always be his No. 2 priority.

“You can always build another steam engine,” he said, “but you can’t build another tiger.”

Biography from the Archives of askART
Biography photo for David Shepherd
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"


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About  David Shepherd

Born:  1931 - Hendon, London, England
Died:   2017 - Sussex, England
Known for:  large wild animal in landscape painting