Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Rupert Shephard and the Slade School of Art

 Rupert Shephard
British painter and printmaker

Today an unexpected posting. In an attempt cleaning up my pictures archive anticipating the arrival of a new computer I found a stray picture of a London Bobby created around 1975. And following my stream of consciousness on a very rainy day I tried finding some more about the maker.

Born in Islington he studied at London’s Slade School of Art 1926-29 under Henry Tonks and British impressionist Phillip Wilson Steer (1860-1942). Fellow students (class mates?) were William Townsend (1909-1973), Nicolette Macnamara (1911-1987) and Anthony Devas (1911-1958).
 South Bank by painter William Townsend.

Shephard, after the war, spent 15 years in South Africa as Professor of Fine Art at the University of Capetown. He returned to London in 1963. 
This explaining the wonderful colorful woodblock prints with African scenes I found.

 Nicolette Macnamara (1911-1987) married class mate Anthony Devas in 1931, to become both successful painters, in the same year exhibiting in London with Sheppard. She was also a writer, writing the autobiography "Two flamboyant fathers" about her colorfull childhood. 
Nicolette by husband Anthony Devas and her sister Caitlin by lover Augustus John.

Nicolette was the younger sister of Bohemian and wild Caitlin (1913-1994), who was both the lover of the (second) son, Casper John (1903-1984), and mistress of the father, painter Augustus John (1878-1961). Casper John the later Admiral of the Fleet. The families were neighbours on the edge of the New Forest in Hampshire.  John and his sister Gwen, 30 years before also had been students of Slade. In 1931 Caitlin married poet Dylan Thomas (1914-1953) after being introduced by Augustus John. In her youth Caitlin studied dance with Isodora Duncan (1877-1927). Gwen John, living in Paris, was for 10 years the muze and mistress of French sculptor Auguste Rodin (1840-1917). What a times !
Staghunt in the New Forest by Nicolette Macnamara.

9 years after Anthony Devas' death Nicolette married Rupert Sheppard in 1967. The group obviously had held a close relationships because I found Ruperts portrait of Dylan Thomas  dated 1940.
And dated 1960 is the portrait of Julian Huxley (1887-1975) elder brother of Aldous (1894-1963) 
There is also a book illustrated with his woodcut prints.

All pictures borrowed freely from the internet for friendly, educational non commercial use. 


  1. Mm, fascinating, even though this post asks more questions than it answers! There has been alot about Britain/Australia connections but not enough about UK/SA.

    That first linocut is interesting because it has a strong Grosvenor feel to it even though it comes from the seventies. The cross-hatching is the kind of thing that Julia Mavrogordato did. I wonder when he began to make prints.

    1. Well, it wasn't supposed giving answers. Just pieces of the big puzzle and some gathered facts and prints. Fascinating you come up with the cross hatching similarities.