Sir James Jebusa Shannon RA (1862-1923)

'The portrait painter whose work is most fashionably in demand is Mr J. J. Shannon, who finds himself among the foremost exponents of this branch of art, and is without exception the most dashing... he has painted more lovely women than any portrait artist in the same space of time...'

J. J. Shannon was born to an Irish-American family in Aubyn, New York. He had an early interest in art, and copied from available reproductions of Landseer and others before realising he needed to take proper art training. To this end, he came to England in 1878, intending to stay only a couple of years, but in the event settling for good. He studied at the South Kensington School for 3 years, under Poynter and Sparkes, and then set up his own portrait practice. He painted mainly very beautiful young ladies, and his first work at the Royal Academy was in 1881, the Hon. Horatia Stopford. In 1886 he was a founder member of the New English Art Club (but resigned in 1892 after two of his pictures were rejected). His success increased markedly in 1887, with the exhibition of his full length portrait of a Mr Henry Vigne, which led to many commissions. In 1897 he was elected ARA, and in 1901 his picture of a Flower Girl was bought under the terms of the Chantrey Bequest. In 1909 Shannon became full RA, and in 1910 he became President of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. He was knighted in 1922.

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