Sat, November 12th, 2016

Fascinating Jungle Tales told by Sir James Jebusa Shannon

Sir James Jebusa Shannon Painted Portraits That Tell Stories

Sir James Jebusa Shannon, Portrait Painting “Jungle Tales” Oil On Canvas

Sir James Jebusa Shannon was an Anglo-American artist with an outstanding reputation as a society portrait painter. He lived from 1862 to 1923 and was born in Auburn, New York. During his life, he was often compared to John Singer Sargent.

His parents took him to live in Ontario, Canada at the age of eight and at sixteen he managed to persuade his parents to let him go over to London, England to do his studies. Obviously, the experience of living in many countries and experiencing different cultures had a great effect on his character and talents.

A Society Portrait Painter that Won Many Prices

In 1881 Shannon decided to study at South Kensington where he already after three years won the gold medal for figure painting and later on was knighted by British royals. During his studies there Shannon painted a portrait of the honourable Horatia Stopford. She was one of the queen’s maids of honour. It was this portrait painting in the Academic Classicism style that  attracted the attention of members of the Royal Academy laying the foundations for his breakthrough. Not long after this his portrait of Henry Vigne, depicted in a hunting costume, was a big success of the Royal Academy exhibition in 1887. Following this, it continued to secure medals for the artist at exhibitions in Paris, Berlin, and Vienna. It was during this time Sir James Jebusa Shannon became one of the leading portrait painters in London and even Queen Victoria commissioned him to paint two women in royal entourage. Shannon however, has scarcely been on the radar for Americans’ since he died.


James Jebusa Shannon gives back to Art Community

Having achieved such a respectable reputation he decided to become a founding member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. Shannon was also one of the first members of the New English Art Club. In 1897 Shannon was elected an associate of the Royal Academy, and RA in 1909.

It’s thought he made over 400 paintings during his life and only about half of them have been located. He was very active up till about 1914 when Shannon was injured during horse riding. Today many of the major works are owned by institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Carnegie Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Museum.

His paintings are often sold. Experts are having difficulties identifying some of his paintings because he was not very accurate when putting his signature on his works. His portraits were never actively promoted after his death and unfortunately his personal notes about the paintings have not been preserved. Many portraits are still privately owned by the descendant of his original clients.


Themes in Shannon’s Oil Paintings

The National Gallery of British Art bought his picture “The Flower Girl” in 1901. Today Shannon’s paintings are available in the collections of several British institutions including the Glasgow Museum, Bradford Museum, and the Sheffield and Derby Art Gallery.

Shannon frequently uses flowers as a theme for his paintings. Some examples are “Iris“, “in the springtime“, “White Lilies“.

A nice slideshow made of his paintings can be watched on youtube. Now the waiting is for the first documentary to air on TV.

It’s said that James Jebusa Shannon loved children and had tricks to keep their attention and focussed while he was painting his portraits.
We know from hearsay that he would recite “Br’er Rabbit”. Or pretended to be an impromptu Red Indian performing all kind of theatricals to amuse the kids.
while the serious business of portrait painting was in progress. For example imagine how difficult it must have been to paint this portrait of a girl name Bridget, the daughter of Harold Nickols.


Familiar paintings by James Jebusa Shannon

Shannon’s granddaughter, Julia Gibbons, currently still possesses most of his paintings and it was only in 2014 during a large exhibition in the United States many of his works were for sale. Before this time many paintings were in possession of his descendants, and they rarely exhibited them.

The majority of his portraits are of his close friends and family members. Shannon was also friends with Oscar Wilde and James McNeill Whistler.



A Painted Reproduction of a Shannon Painting

At PassionForPaintings we specialise in reproducing extraordinary and special oil on canvas paintings. If you too like his unique style of painting people in portraits, how he depicts their thoughts, the way he manages to transpose this to his canvas with only paint and a brush browse our gallery. For sure some of his works would make a great impression hanging on your wall. We can paint you an Oil Painting Reproduction that would have been approved by Sir James Jebusa Shannon himself. Check his Paintings. Art lovers that like this article might also like the blog of the author Monique Lucy Weberink.

Get your own “Jungle Tales” reproduction

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *