Oil on canvas, 29.5 x 24.5 inches/Signed lower left
Sheppard loved sea. He was born in Greenwich, New Jersey, a seaport town with a long history of ship-building and fishing industry on the Cohansey River, a tributary to the Delaware River. Sheppard’s father was a lumber ship captain and the fledgling artist often accompanied his father on his sailing trips. He began his formal art training at the Cooper Union in New York City, and studied the techniques of maritime painting from Dutch maritime artist, Mauritz de Haas, also in in New York. In 1879, Sheppard spent four months sketching 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 France and then Venice, Italy. Yes, he loved the sea, but he also loved the vessels that sailed them. Not only was Sheppard an artist, but he was an expert in yacht design, ship rigging, and navigation. In fact, Sheppard was navigator on the 38-foot yawl, “Tamerlane”, when it won the first Newport to Bermuda run in 1906, under sailboat designer and sailing master, 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 he died, 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 vessels he authentically captured on canvas. Sheppard also earned 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 those of the old majestic sailing ships 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 Exposition (1884, Gold medal); World’s Columbian Exposition (Chicago, 1893); and the Louisiana Purchase Exposition (St. Louis Exposition, 1904).