George Sidney Shepherd (British 1784-1862)
St. Saviour’s Church, Southwark, London
Signed and dated l.r.: Geo. Sidney Shepherd 1839, watercolour over traces of pencil
17.5 x 26.8 cm
This church was known as St. Mary Overy's until 1540. In 1904 it became the Cathedral church of the Diocese of Southwark.
George Sidney Shepherd, the oldest son, was a member of a talented family of London topographers. On returning to England from France the Shepherd family settled in a neighbourhood close to the City Road.
Throughout his career Shepherd was patronised by the celebrated interior designer, Frederick Crace, who became equally famous as a collector of views and maps of London. Crace commissioned him to produce watercolours of London buildings and locations, and also bought others from him. The fame of the Crace Collection acted as a springboard for Shepherd’s career, as he began to receive commissions from others, including Rudolph Ackermann. From around the time of its foundation in 1809, until its demise in 1828, Shepherd produced a series of street views for Ackermann’s magazine, ‘The Repository of Arts’, sometimes in collaboration with his younger brother, Thomas Hosmer Shepherd.
From around 1818, Shepherd established himself as a book illustrator, with contributions to the part work, ‘Londina Illustrata' (1819-25), again in collaboration with his brother, Thomas, amongst others. Security and success soon arrived, with his first commission from the publisher, Jones & Co, based at the Temple of the Muses, Finsbury Square. The first part of ‘Metropolitan Improvements’ appeared in 1827, and comprised numerous steel engravings after drawings by Shepherd, with a commentary by the architect James Elmes. Its popularity not only ensured further commissions for Shepherd from Jones but ‘induced many publishers to embark on similar works’ (an unsigned review in the ‘Gentleman’s Magazine’ for March 1829, cited by J. F. C. Phillips, ‘Shepherd’s London’, London: Cassell 1976, page 11).
The sequel to ‘Metropolitan Improvements’, entitled ‘London and its Environs’, began to appear in 1828.
The Crace Collection in the British Museum contains nearly 500 images by Shepherd, including 38 views of ‘Edinburgh for Modern Athens!’. His work is also represented in many other public collections, including Kensington & Chelsea Library and the V&A.