Artwork by Peter Clapham Sheppard,  Nude Figure Study

P.C. Sheppard
Nude Figure Study

oil on canvas
estate stamp on the reverse
34 x 21 ins ( 86.4 x 53.3 cms )

Auction Estimate: $8,000.00$6,000.00 - $8,000.00

Price Realized $4,800.00
Sale date: May 31st 2022

Private Collection, Ontario
Tom Smart, “Peter Clapham Sheppard: His Life and Work”, Richmond Hill, Ontario, 2018, pages 78 & 79
P.C. Sheppard studied life drawing extensively under his teacher and mentor J.M.W. Beatty. Beatty returned to Toronto in 1908 after an extended trip to Europe. In 1912, George Reid, who was the principal of Ontario College of Art at the time, hired Beatty to teach life drawing at the school. Sheppard was a student there at the time, and was one of Beatty’s first students. Author Tom Smart writes that “the innovation that met Sheppard while he was Beatty’s life-drawing student was that the models were undraped. Nude. Although this was a common practice in European art schools, it was revolutionary, perhaps even scandalous, in the eyes of prim Toronto.” Beatty was otherwise traditional and academic in his drawing and painting methods, dissuading his students from experimenting in Cubism and Expressionism.

Smart remarks on Sheppard’s artistic development as a result of these classes, writing that “[he] absorbed Beatty’s lessons well, particularly involving those drawing from the nude. He clearly had a natural affinity for drawing the figure with a view to capturing its life and energy without diminishing the importance of effectively rendering the model proportionately.” The above statement can be used to effectively describe Sheppard’s oil on canvas “Nude Figure Study”, which depicts a nude figure posing in a classroom.

Sheppard won the Ontario College of Art Honourable Mention award for the 1912-13 year (for subjects of still life painting, painting, composition, drawing from the draped model, drawing from the nude), the Stone Scholarship for his “proficiency in the department of drawing from the nude” and the award of a Sir Edmund Walker Scholarship for drawing the nude figure in the following school year. The timing of these awards certainly suggest that Sheppard learned much from his life drawing teacher. In fact, throughout the rest of Beatty’s life, he and Sheppard remained close friends.

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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)