Artwork by Peter Clapham Sheppard,  Bandsman (West India Regiment) (1923)

P.C. Sheppard
Bandsman (West India Regiment) (1923)

oil on canvas
signed lower left; estate stamp on the stretcher
30 x 24 ins ( 76.2 x 61 cms )

Auction Estimate: $6,000.00$4,000.00 - $6,000.00

Price Realized $5,760.00
Sale date: February 1st 2022

Estate of the artist
Private Collection, Ontario
Sheppard witnessed the urbanization and many historical events that took place in Canadian and American cities during the first half of the twentieth century. In this regard, Sheppard saw himself as aligned with the contemporaneous American society of artists known as the Eight, and later the Ashcan School, rather than with any Canadian movements at the time. Members of these American 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 scenes of urban life of the 1920s, including paintings of Toronto, Montreal, and New York City.

The vibrant oil painting “Bandsman (West India Regiment)” depicts very specific and lesser known historical figures of the twentieth century. The West India Regiment was an infantry unit of the British Army, recruited from and typically stationed in the Caribbean colonies, formed in 1795. The Regiment served in West Africa during the late nineteenth century and in the Middle East during World War One. Dating to 1923, Sheppard’s painting portrays two members of the Regiment’s marching band, which would occasionally hold ceremonial functions in London and Toronto. The band members wear the characteristic red felt cap with a white tassel, known as a pugri. The uniform of the West India Regiments was very similar to that worn by British Line Infantry until 1858 when Queen Victoria, impressed by the dress of the French colonial zouaves, requested that the men of the West India Regiment have a similar uniform.

Sheppard’s painting documents the West India Regiment in its later years, before it was disbanded in 1927. The regiment was briefly revived in 1958 during the short-lived Federation of the West Indies, but finally abandoned in 1962.

The dating of this artwork (1923) is based upon the oil sketch of this subject having been included in the Ontario Society of Artists Small Picture Exhibition, held at the Art Gallery of Toronto in October of that year (the sketch was no. 176 in the exhibition).

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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 -

(Source: The Estate of the Artist)