Born in Toronto in 1881, Peter Clapham Sheppard received his art training at the Central Ontario School of Art and Design and the Ontario College of Art under George Reid. P.C. Sheppard trained, sketched, and exhibited alongside members of the future Group of Seven.
In his youth Sheppard served apprenticeships in the commercial engraving houses of Toronto. His skills as a lithographer provided him the means of a livelihood throughout his life that was devoted to art. After 1912 he travelled extensively throughout Europe and the United States. He taught at the O.C.A summer school as well as at his studio in Toronto. He died at the age of eighty-eight in 1965.
Sheppard occupies a place among a notable generation of artists that pioneered and firmly established a distinctively Canadian school of art.
His versatility is evidenced in the many formidable examples of figural works, portraits, still life, landscapes, city and harbour scenes, circuses, country fairs, markets, and horse- cab stands.
In the years preceding the Great War (1914-1918) and in the decade to follow, he focused its attention on the beauty and bounty of the Canadian landscape – specifically, the waters, forests, and skies of Ontario’s hinterland. He painted these elements, timelessly transforming under the changing visages of the seasons, in a new and vibrant modernist idiom.
P.C. Sheppard worked prolifically, producing sketches and large canvases that extol his talents as a draughtsman and colourist.
In 1912-13 he won the Sir Edmund Walker Scholarship and later the Stone Scholarship (Life Classes) in 1913-14, as well as nine Honours diplomas for painting, drawing, and composition.He was elected a member of the Ontario Society of Artists in 1918 and an Associate of the Royal Canadian Academy in 1929.
He soon became a regular exhibitor in the annual R.C.A., O.S.A. and C.N.E. exhibitions. Sheppard’s works were also selected for pivotal exhibitions: The British Empire Exhibition, Wembley 1925, L’Exposition D’Art Canadien, Paris 1927, The Exhibition of Contemporary Canadian Painting (Southern Dominions) 1936, The World’s Fair, New York 1939.
Sheppard is represented in the National Gallery, in the Art Gallery of Ontario and in the Canadian War Museum.