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Sir James Jebusa Shannon (1862-1923)

Biography of the portrait painter Sir James Jebusa Shannon (1862-1923)

James Jebusa Shannon (1862–1923) was an Anglo-American artist born in Auburn in New York on 3rd February 1862 to Irish parents. At the age of eight, Shannon's parents moved to Canada. Shannon went to London in 1878 to study at the Royal College of Art in South Kensington under Edward Poynter between 1878 and 1891. He won the gold medal for figure painting three years later.

Shannon's portrait of the Hon Horatia Stopford (a Maid of Honour to Queen Victoria) attracted attention at the Royal Academy in 1881 and in 1887 his portrait of Henry Vigne in hunting attire was one of the successes of the exhibition, subsequently securing medals for the artist at Paris, Vienna and Berlin.

Shannon soon became one of the leading portrait painters in London and his Holland Park Studios were in the centre of the then most fashionable part of London, where local clients could easily call in for portrait sittings with the artist.

Shannon was one of the first members of the New English Art Club, a founder member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters and, in 1897, was elected an associate of the Royal Academy and 'RA' in 1909. He was President of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters from 1910 until 1923 and was knighted in 1922.

Shannon's picture The Flower Girl was bought in 1901 for the National Gallery of British Art. Shannon has paintings in several British civic collections including Sheffield City Art Gallery, Derby Art Gallery, Glasgow Museum and Bradford Museum.

Shannon was considered by many to rival John Singer Sargent (1856-1925), but between them they were without doubt the two most sought after portrait artists of their period.

Shannon died on 6th March 1923.

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