Wednesday, September 20, 2017

David Shepherd (1931-2017)

Today the death of David Shepherd CBE FRSA, the conservationist and renowned painter of planes, trains and wildlife, was announced by his family via his Foundation website. He died yesterday, on 19th September 2017, age 86.

I remember thinking how frail he looked at the end of June at the splendid Wildlife Artist of the Year Exhibition at the Mall Galleries.  Moving more slowly, a little more bowed and a little less weight than I remembered - and I was used to seeing at the preview at the exhibition which he started to raise funds for conservation.

However there was still the twinkle in the eye and the interest in what artists had painted and what people had done and were planning to do next in the world of wildlife art.

My last photo of David Shepherd - on 27 June 2017
at the preview of the exhibition for the Wildlife Artist of the Year 2017
David Shepherd taking a tour of the exhibition before the PV got properly underway

I won't attempt any sort of recap of his career. His website has an admirable one which draws out both the story of his life and his very many achievements and awards.
he became a conservationist overnight when he came across 255 dead zebra at a poisoned waterhole in Tanzania. Throughout his career David tried to do all he could to repay the enormous debt he felt he owed to the elephants, tigers and other animals that gave him so much success as an artist. ‘Tiger Fire’ was one of his first major fund-raising successes, raising £127,000 (equivalent to £1.4 million in today’s money) for Indira Gandhi’s Operation Tiger in 1973.
He set up the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF) and has helped to protect endangered wildlife for over 30 years. The Foundation has now given away over £8.5 million to help save wildlife. Not bad for an artist - helped by more than a few other artists and other conservation enthusiasts

I'm sure very many wildlife artists will want to remember him best in terms of what he meant to them.  Please feel free to add a comment below. Messages of condolence can also be emailed to mandy(DOT)gale(AT)

I know that when he started the Wildlife Artist of the Year competition, as well as raising a huge amount of money for conservation he also enabled very many wildlife artists to show their art in a world-class exhibition.

I was always amazed at the number of international artists I met at the exhibition and whose work I saw. It's an exhibition which enjoys a very special kudos in the world of wildlife art - particularly for those who were concerned about the conservation of wild animals threatened with extinction.

Below I'll share just a few of my memories of David at the exhibitions over the years.

(left to right) David Shepherd CBE, Adam Binder - Wildlife Artist of the Year 2010,
David Gower and Robert Lindsay
David Shepherd at WAOY 2016 with his personal choice for a prize
The Sentinel by Laurence Saunois (Figeac, France)

Alan Woollett at the Awards Ceremony with David Shepherd
- he had no idea he'd won his category!


  1. Such sad news, he was an exemplary artist, who did so much to protect the animals he loved painting. I'll be so sad not to see him at the DSWF art exhibitions, he was such a support and inspiration to so many wildlife artists, and to the genre in general.

  2. Such a talent and obviously a huge heart.
    Over many years I have been in awe of his technical ability and artistry. The dust and heat being tangible. During the sixties or seventies,I remember being saddened and angry,as his work seemed to be shunned by the powers that were in the art world then. Now his achievements and legacy are immence.


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