The subjects of David Shepherd’s paintings varied throughout his career as his reputation grew and his passions changed. David’s artistic career began with aviation commissions for the Royal Airforce. David’s passion was painting steam trains for many years, however after a visit to Africa and witnessing the devastation of poaching first hand his true passion, wildlife art, was born. David was acclaimed for painting both landscapes and portraits.
In 1953 David started his career as an aviation artist, setting up his canvas on the tarmac of Heathrow Airport. Here David met the Chairman of BOAC, Sir Miles Thomas, who commented that David can never have flown judging by the way he painted the clouds and promptly got him on a test flight. This resulted in several new commissions, one of which was ‘A Pilot’s Eye View.’
David became the official Royal Air Force (RAF) artist, a position he later handed to his daughter Mandy Shepherd. During his time with the RAF they commissioned over 100 pieces.
David’s aviation work took him all over the world. One such trip was to change his life. The RAF flew him from Mukulla in Aden to Kenya in 1960 and David was commissioned to paint his first-ever wildlife painting – a rhino on a runway.
Shepherd’s wildlife art quickly gained recognition for its extraordinary level of detail, technical precision, and emotional impact. His paintings were characterized by rich colours, intricate brushwork, and a deep sense of empathy for the animals he portrayed. His artwork resonated with both art collectors and animal lovers alike, and he gained a significant following. In 1960, Shepherd held his first solo exhibition in London, which received widespread acclaim and launched him into the limelight.
David Shepherd is often referred to as ‘the man who loved giants’ – not just his iconic giant elephants but the mighty steam trains that he loved and painted so beautifully. David captured the final days of steam in his wonderfully atmospheric artwork and campaigned to save some of the last working steam engines.
“A great man who will forever be credited as one of this country’s greatest pioneers of railway preservation.” – Julian Birley the then Chairman of the North Norfolk Railway
David was also known for his portraits, which include subjects as varied as Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, HE Sheikh Zayed of Abu Dhabi and ‘Rambo’ a Cornish fisherman. Perhaps the most significant of his portraits was his vast portrayal of ‘Christ on the Battlefield’ which hangs behind the altar in Base Chapel at the Ministry of Defence Lyneham.
David’s art continues to raise invaluable funds for conservation. We are delighted to have much of his work for sale; original artworks, limited edition prints, open edition prints and books.
Prints for sale
Limited edition and open edition prints are available for sale from the DSWF online shop. Proceeds from the sales of artwork go to continuing DSWF’s vital work in Africa and Asia.
Limited edition prints
Limited edition prints are individually numbered and signed by the artist.
Open edition prints
Open edition prints are not numbered, or hand signed by the artist however most have a printed signature.
Buy David Shepherd artwork