David Shepherd (artist)

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David Shepherd, photographed at the East Somerset Railway in the mid-1990s
David Shepherd. Three Tuskers.

Richard David Shepherd CBE FRSA FGRA (born 25 April 1931) is a British artist and one of the world's most outspoken conservationists.[1] He is most famous for his paintings of steam locomotives (he owns a number of them) and wildlife, although he also often paints aircraft, portraits (notably The Queen Mother) and landscapes. His work has been extremely popular since the 1960s in limited edition print reproduction and poster form, as well as other media such as Wedgwood limited edition plates. He has written five books about his art,[2] including an autobiography.[3]

Life and work[edit]

David Shepherd was born in Hendon, London, England. As a child he lived in Totteridge, North London and he won a children's painting competition in a magazine called Nursery World when he was eight years old. He then attended Stowe School in Buckinghamshire. Upon leaving school he travelled to Kenya with the hope of becoming a game warden, but was rejected. He returned to the UK but was rejected by the Slade School of Fine Art in London. However, he was taken in by the artist Robin Goodwin who trained him for three years.

Neal Brown said in frieze magazine: "David Shepherd is one of the most financially rewarded painters in the UK... Shepherd has brought pleasure to millions, as seen on the many table mats, posters and commemorative plates that bear his work."[4] David Gower said, "There is a sense of the atmosphere of the African bush that emanates from all his work."[1]


David Shepherd (left) and his wife Avril receiving 15F 3052 named 'Avril' (1991)

He became interested in conservation during an early expedition into the African bush, where he discovered a poisoned water hole with a large number of dead zebra.[1] He has since become an outspoken world-known campaigner,[1] and devotes much of his time to this. He is also a steam railway enthusiast, but said in a letter to the UK Railway Magazine, "you can always build another steam loco but you can't build another tiger." One of his best known paintings is called Tiger in The Sun, painted in 1977. He is also known for his paintings of elephants. He is the founder of the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation.[5] He received an OBE dated 31 December 1979 "for services to the conservation of wildlife."[6] He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2008 Birthday Honours for services to charity and wildlife conservation.[7]

Steam enthusiast[edit]

Shepherd owns a number of steam locomotives. He bought both 9F "Black Prince" 92203 and Class 4MT No.75029 "The Green Knight" direct from British Railways, where he had connections from painting various scenes for them. No.75029 "The Green Knight" was sold to the North Yorkshire Moors Railway to finance No.92203's overhaul, but in 2015 "Black Prince" was sold too to the North Norfolk Railway.[8]

All his African locomotives are British-built. In South Africa his 15F (Nº 3052), presented to him by Spoornet in 1991, is stored at Sandstone Estates in Ficksburg. It has carried various names, including "City of Germiston" and, more recently, his wife's name, "Avril". It was moved to Ficksburg in light steam from Pietermaritzburg by Friends of the Rail (a Pretoria-based heritage steam association) in April 2003 and it steamed again in April 2006, when Friends of the Rail operated it for several trips between Ficksburg and Komandonek with Shepherd on board. He also owns two Zambian locomotives from the Mulobezi Railway, given to him by then President Kenneth Kaunda. One is still in the railway museum in Livingstone, Zambia, the other located on the Sandstone Estates complex in South Africa. Shepherd donated the other[clarification needed], along with a coach, to the National Railway Museum in York in the UK, where it is undergoing restoration.

Shepherd was involved in founding a heritage steam railway in the UK, the East Somerset Railway, where the signal box at Cranmore Station has become a small gallery displaying his work. He is also President of the "Railway Ramblers".[9]


  1. ^ a b c d Gower, David (20 September 2003). "What's not to like? Gower is drawn to the wild charms of David Shepherd's African images". The Times. London. Retrieved 10 April 2008. 
  2. ^ Foundation Website, accessed 11 April 2008
  3. ^ Shepherd, David, "The Man Who Loves Giants: An Artist Among Elephants and Engines," (1975, Charles Scribner's Sons)(ISBN 068414509X).
  4. ^ Brown, Neal. "David Shepherd", frieze, March – April 2000. Retrieved 11 April 2008.
  5. ^ David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation
  6. ^ "The Queen has been graciously pleased to give orders for the following promotions in, and appointments to, the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire ... Ordinary Officers of the Civil Division of the said Most Excellent Order". Supplement to the London Gazette, Issue 48059. 8 January 1980. p. 293. Retrieved 10 April 2008. [dead link] Listed as Richard David Shepherd.
  7. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 58729. p. 8. 14 June 2008.
  8. ^ North Norfolk Railway Twitter
  9. ^ Railway Ramblers

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]