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 Nellie Ellen Shepherd  (1877 - 1920)

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Lived/Active: Oklahoma/Kansas/Arizona      Known for: Indian portrait, figure and landscape painting

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Ad Code: 4
Nellie Shepherd
from Auction House Records.
Homer Fritz
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Kansas, Nellie Shepherd grew up in Oklahoma in a large family and, devoting the early part of her short life to her career, she became one of the state's first professional artists. Many of her paintings were impressionist in style, and western subjects became frequent themes.

She studied in Cincinnati at the Art Academy from 1900 to 1902 with Lewis Meakin and Caroline Lord.  From 1907 to 1910, she was in Paris, where she lived a Bohemian life style, attended some art schools but was most influenced by Henri-Jean Martin.  Her interest was figures, and she painted Brittany fishermen in vibrant colors and modernist, painterly style. Family pressure caused her to return home in 1910, but the Paris training had provided her with a sound artistic training. Also she had exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1910, a large portrait of her sister, Myrtle.

For at least one year she was head of the art department at Oklahoma College for Women at Chickasha. In her home state, she became an active portraitist  and also traveled frequently to Arizona where the landscape and Native Americans were a significant part of her painting. Among her subjects were the Pima Indians including a painting called Papago Indian Hut, Arizona, which is in the Santa Fe Railway Collection. Other works were Impressions of Arizona; Old Tucson, Arizona; and Apache Homes.

She never married and of delicate health, died early and suddenly, leaving in 1920, an unfinished portrait titled Te Ata, the subject being one of the most prominent American Indian women of her time.

Some of Shepherd's work, including a portrait titled A Brittany Fisherman, is in the Oklahoma City Art Museum.

Phil Kovinick and Marian Yoshiki-Kovinick, An Encyclopedia of Women Artists of the American West
Patricia Trenton, Independent Spirits: Women Painters of the American West, 1890-1945
Exhibition Record (Museums, Institutions and Awards):
Oklahoma Artists annual, 1917.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born Thayer, Apr. 30, 1877; died Tucson, AZ, July 18, 1920. Painter, spec. landscapes and portraits. Family participated in the 1889 Oklahoma Land Rush and settled near Oklahoma City. Studied for at the Cincinnati Art Academy from 1900- 02 with Lewis H. Meakin and Caroline Lord then in Paris where she was a pupil of Henri Martin. Returned from Paris in 1910 and became an active portraitist in Oklahoma. Traveled to Arizona where she painted the Pima Indians.
Grand Salon award, Paris, 1910.

Oklahoma City Art Museum; Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art; Santa Fe Railway Collection

Susan Craig, "Biographical Dictionary of Kansas Artists (active before 1945)"
Dawdy 2: Dawdy, Doris Ostrander. Artists of the American West: A Biographical Dictionary. Volume 2. Chicago: Swallow Press, 1981. ; AskArt,, accessed Dec. 27, 2005; Kovinick, Phil and Marian Yoshiki-Kovinick. An Encyclopedia of Women Artists of the American West. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1998.
This and over 1,750 other biographies can be found in Biographical Dictionary of Kansas Artists (active before 1945) compiled by Susan V. Craig, Art & Architecture Librarian at University of Kansas.

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