George Sidney Shepherd, NWS (1784-1862) Establishing himself with his excellent topographical views of London, George Sidney Shepherd became a founder member of the New Society of Painters in Water Colours, and one of its most prolific exhibitors.
George Sidney Shepherd was born in Old Street, Finsbury, London, the son of a watchcase maker. He probably studied at Dr Monro’s informal academy and, by 1800, had begun to exhibit watercolours at various London venues, including the Royal Academy of Arts. He was awarded a silver palette by the Society of Arts in both 1803 and 1804.
While his earliest subjects were close to his home, off the City Road in rural Islington, Shepherd began to travel further afield by 1807, when he produced sketches of Cambridge and Northampton for John Britton’s Architectural Antiquities of Great Britain (1807). His range encompassed rural and natural landscapes, including some of Bedfordshire, the home county of his first wife, whom he married in 1812. Yet, increasingly, he specialised in townscapes and, in particular, scenes of London.
Many of his images were engraved for such publications as John Booth’s Architectural Series of London Churches (1818), Charles Clarke’s Architectura ecclesiastica Londini (1819) and Robert Wilkinson’s Londina illustrata (1825-34). Sometimes he worked in collaboration with his brother, Thomas Hosmer Shepherd.
In the mid 1820s, Shepherd changed his style from the precise and delicate to the painterly and impressionistic, signalling the start of this new phase in 1824 by altering his signature from ‘George Shepherd’ to ‘George Sidney Shepherd’. (One of his eight children was given the middle name of ‘Sidney’ in the same year.)
In 1831, Shepherd helped to found the New Society of Painters in Water Colours, and during the next two decades exhibited nearly 225 works. Almost expelled for non-payment of dues, he was found to be in dire poverty and instead made an honorary member. Following his confinement to bed, in 1860, he was granted a pension by the society until February 1861. A year later, he died in St Pancras Workhouse.
His work is represented in numerous public collections, including the British Museum and the V&A; and Cecil Higgins Art Gallery (Bedford).