Or Victorian. He straddled the border. A few months ago when rooting about for a suitable image to put on our members’ cards, after a few false starts, I came across just the thing. A view of the Thames and Somerset House from the west by Thomas Hosmer Shepherd (1792 – 1864). Because it featured lots of sky, it enabled me to incorporate London Historians logo without interfering with the image unduly. The picture is listed on the Internet as having been painted in 1817, and you’ll notice the Thames is not yet embanked, something Joseph Bazalgette famously undertook some 50 years later. I think you’ll agree, it’s a fine picture.
So who was Thomas Hosmer Shepherd? As you can see, his Wikipedia entry is not much more than a stub. Using my new DNB subscription, I turned there, only to find him mentioned just the once and in passing, with relation to his brother, who was seemingly more Important.
And yet there are quite a few examples of his work knocking around the web. I like them very much, both aesthetically and as great references of London’s buildings and streets during the Victorian period. What I have been able to find out is that Shepherd was mainly a watercolourist and that rather than being an exhibiting or commercial painter, he appears to have been commissioned as an architectural illustrator, many of his paintings being turned into engravings for reference books of pretty buildings. You can buy these on places like abebooks.com for up to £1,500 for first editions, or very cheaply for reissues that were printed in the 1970s. So we know that someone was on the Thomas Holmer Shepherd case relatively recently.
So like Erasmus Bond, whom I wrote about recently, Shepherd is undeservedly obscure, in my view. But I suspect we may find out more about him more easily than the mysterious Mr Bond. If you know anything, please do get in touch. Meantime, here are a few more of Shepherd’s lovely pictures.