Artwork by Peter Clapham Sheppard,  The Boardwalk, Atlantic City, New Jersey

P.C. Sheppard
The Boardwalk, Atlantic City, New Jersey

oil on canvas
signed lower right; estate stamp (LG1919) on the stretcher; dated circa 1919 on an estate label on the reverse of the framing
21.25 x 17 ins ( 54 x 43.2 cms )

Sold for $12,980.00
Sale date: November 20th 2018

Provenance:
Estate of the artist
Private Collection, Ontario
Literature:
Tom Smart, Peter Clapham Sheppard: His Life and Work, Richmond Hill, Ontario, 2018, reproduced page 137
A Toronto native, Peter Clapham Sheppard occupies a place in Canadian art history among a generation of artists that established a distinctively Canadian school of art. While the painter studied, sketched and exhibited alongside members of the Group of Seven, Sheppard found inspiration in more broad subject matter, including landscapes, portraits, still lifes, city and harbour scenes. Sheppard bore witness to the steady construction and urbanization that took place in Canadian and American cities during the first half of the twentieth century, which inspired much of his artistic oeuvre. In this regard, Sheppard saw himself as better aligned with the contemporaneous American society of artists known as the Eight, and later the Ashcan School. Members of these groups depicted the bustling streets of New York City in a colourful, expressive and anti-academic manner. Sheppard exemplifies this approach in many of his urban scenes of the early 1920s, including paintings of Toronto, Montreal, New York City, and in this instance, Atlantic City. The vibrant canvas “The Boardwalk, Atlantic City” (1922) embodies these anti-aesthetic intentions in its decorative colour palette and contemporary reflection of middle-class urban life. Author and art historian Tom Smart writes in his recent book on Sheppard that “[i]n artistic terms, Sheppard identified with human subjects in gritty urban settings.” Smart elaborates further on Sheppard’s talent in painting city scenes, remarking that he “captured an essential liveliness, apparently easily, gesture and rhythms of line and colour simulate as if by magic the cacophony and harmonies of his subjects.”

P.C. Sheppard was captivated by subjects involving a human presence, particularly crowds in city streets, markets, county fairs, circuses and harbour scenes. In many of these artworks, the artist illustrates the stark contrast between humans and the sublime landscape or the power of industrialization. Tom Smart comments on this theme present in “The Boardwalk, Atlantic City” and similar works of the early 1920s, remarking that Sheppard “explores the dichotomy between human-scaled objects and the almighty dehumanization of the modern city.” The author points out the “two-ranked composition in the boardwalk” of this vibrant canvas, and describes it as “a painting that recalls the ambitions of arrival of the circus with its heavily populated foreground overshadowed by an elevated avenue separating the maelstrom from the built structures looming over everything.”

A copy of “Peter Clapham Sheppard: His Life and Work”, the 2018 book devoted to the artist and within which this artwork is reproduced, is included with this lot.

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Peter Clapham Sheppard
(1882 - 1965) OSA, RCA

Peter Clapham Sheppard was born in Toronto on October 21, 1881. He apprenticed at engraving houses such as at Rolph, Clark, Stone Ltd. in Toronto, where he became a highly skilled lithographer. He received his art training at the Central Ontario School of Art and Design and the Ontario College of Art under George Reid, John William Beatty, and William Cruickshank. Between 1912 and 1914, he obtained nine Honours Diplomas for for painting and drawing and was awarded the Sir Edmund Walker Scholarship and the Stone Scholarship (Life Classes).

After 1912, Sheppard travelled extensively throughout Europe and the United States. He was elected a member of the Ontario Society of Artists in 1918 and an Associate of the Royal Canadian Academy in 1929. His works were shown in many of the annual R.C.A., O.S.A. and C.N.E. exhibitions, along side works by Tom Thomson, Frederick Varley and J.E.H. MacDonald. His artworks were also included in The British Empire Exhibition, Wembley 1925, L’Exposition D’Art Canadien, Paris 1927, The Exhibition of Contemporary Canadian Painting (Southern Dominions) 1936 and The World’s Fair, New York 1939. Sheppard’s work is held in collections including the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Canadian War Museum and the National Gallery of Canada.

In 2010, Sheppard’s works were prominently featured in the “Defiant Spirits” exhibition at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg, Ontario, curated by noted Canadian author Ross King. Powerful images such as “The Building of the Bloor Street Viaduct (1916)”, “Toronto Gasworks, (1912)” and “The Engine Home, (1919)” attested to Sheppard’s unchronicled contribution to modernism and to the city of Toronto in the formative years of its art history. P.C. Sheppard’s artwork is visible at the thirty-three second mark within this “Group of Seven: Defiant Sprits Exhibition” video - http://goo.gl/FS4C7x

(Source: The Estate of the Artist)