Featured 19th Century Painter: Warren Sheppard (American 1858-1937)
Warren Sheppard loved the sea. He was born in Greenwich, New Jersey, a port city with a long history of shipbuilding and fishing industry on the Cohansey River, a tributary of the Delaware River. Sheppard’s father was a forestry ship captain and the beginning artist often accompanied his father on his boat trips. He began his formal artistic training at the Cooper Union in New York and studied maritime painting techniques with Dutch maritime artist Mauritz de Haas, also in New York. In 1879, Sheppard spent four months drawing in the Mediterranean, including its port cities of Gibraltar, Genoa, Naples and Messina in Sicily. A second trip to Europe from 1888 to 1893 found him in Paris in France and then in Venice in Italy. Yes, he loved the sea, but he also loved the boats that sailed them. Not only was Sheppard an artist, he was an expert in yacht design, ship rigging, and navigation. In fact, 19th century artist Warren Sheppard was a navigator on the 38-foot yawl, “Tamerlan”, when it won the first race from Newport to Bermuda in 1906, under the direction of sailboat designer and sailor Thomas Fleming Day. In 1920 he illustrated and published “Practical Navigation,” which was used by the United States Naval Academy as a training manual. The year of his death, he had completed and illustrated “A Tale of the Sea”, a fictionalized account of his life. Known for his attention to detail, Sheppard had among his clients wealthy yacht owners, whose ships he authentically captured on canvas. Sheppard has also secured commissions for illustrations published in The Brooklyn Eagle, The New York Herald Tribune, and The New York Sun. However, some of his most magnificent paintings are of majestic old sailboats backlit by moonlight, giving them an awe-inspiring presence. Sheppard exhibited at the Brooklyn Art Association (1874-81); National Academy of Design (New York, 1880-1899); Denver Exhibition (1884, gold medal); World’s Columbian Exposition (Chicago, 1893); and the Louisiana Purchase Exposition (St. Louis Exposition, 1904).