Warren Sheppard 1858-1937

Star Island, Isles of Shoals

  • 14 x 12 inches (35.5 x 30.4 cm)
  • Oil on canvas
  • Signed and dated lower left: Warren Sheppard 1881
  • 1881

Why We Love It

Star Island, Isles of Shoals is a fine example of Sheppard’s great love and respect for the sea.  As an expert navigator and yachtsman, Sheppard had a deep reverence for the ocean and understood how to capture both its beauty and the uncertainty it held. His understanding of the forces of nature and power of the ocean helped him to create a work that at once expresses the beauty and might of the sea.

The Value

Painted in 1881, this work is in excellent condition and has its original frame. It is a wonderful and affordable marine painting by an artist highly respected and regarded in his lifetime. Indeed, Sheppard painted some of the most lavish yachts of his day. Then as now those works were lauded for their authenticity and artistic merit.

Artist Background

1858: Born in Greenwich, New Jersey. His father was a sea captain. Studied at Cooper Union as well as with the Dutch marine artist, Mauritz de Haas; 1979: Spent four months sketching Mediterranean port cities, including Gibraltar, Genoa, Naples, and Messina in Sicily; 1880-1899: Exhibited at the National Academy of Design; 1884: Exhibited in the Denver Exposition; 1888-93: Studied painting in Venice and Paris; 1904: Exhibited at the St. Louis Exposition; 1937: Died in Brooklyn, New York.

Star Island, Isles of Shoals is a fine example of Warren Sheppard’s great love and respect for the sea.    As an expert navigator and yachtsman, Sheppard had a deep reverence for the ocean and understood how to capture both its beauty and the uncertainty it held.  In Star Island, Isles of Shoals Sheppard organizes the composition in an original fashion by almost bisecting it.  He gives great emphasis to the beauty of the tranquil sky yet creates a sense of rapid movement in his rendering of the wind-filled sails and crashing waves on the jetty.  In the hands of a lesser painter, the disjunction might not have worked, but Sheppard manages to unite the composition in his careful attention to the details.  His understanding of the forces of nature and power of the ocean helped him to create a work that at once expresses the beauty and might of the sea.

Warren Sheppard was born in 1856 in Greenwich, New Jersey –– a town long associated with ships and the shipping industry.  Sheppard’s father was the captain of a lumber ship, and at an early age he instilled in his son a love for the sea.  Sheppard often accompanied his father on trips in order to study the sea and her many moods.

Sheppard’s formal art training began at the Cooper Union in New York.  Eventually he came to study with the Dutch maritime artist Mauritz Frederick Hendrick de Haas, from whom he learned the art of maritime painting.  He worked closely with De Haas, learning the techniques necessary to capturing the power of the sea.

In 1879 he traveled to the Mediterranean coast and sketched ports in the cities of Genoa, Naples, and Messina.  From 1888 to 1893 Sheppard was in Paris and Venice.  By this time he had already established himself as a successful painter.  His scenes of Venice are some of his finest and most popular mature works.

In addition to painting the sea, Sheppard was no stranger to sailing it.  He designed a large yacht for himself and also captained other vessels.  Twice he was in command of Frank Maier’s Tamerlane when it won the New-York-to-Bermuda race.  He also wrote the book Practical Navigation, which was a standard textbook for the United States Navy for many years.

Today Warren Sheppard’s work is included in the collections of the Mystic Seaport Museum, the Peabody Museum, India House, the Toledo Museum of Art, and the Addison Gallery of American Art.