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SHEPHERD, Helen Parsons

St. John's, Newfoundland, 1923
St. John's, Newfoundland, 2008
Biography synopsis
Helen Parsons Shepherd was born to poet and lawyer R.A. Parsons and his wife (name unknown) in 1923. She and her brother Paul, who became a watercolour artist, were encouraged in their artistic activities, but importantly only as a hobby. Nonetheless, Parsons Shepherd graduated from the Ontario College of Art (the first Newfoundlander to do so) in 1948. The following year, she and her new husband, Reginald Shepherd, returned to Newfoundland and opened the Newfoundland Academy of Art, the first art school in the province, at 51 Cochrane Street, St. John's. In addition Helen Parsons Shepherd also taught art classes at local convents. The couple closed the school two years later to concentrate on their own work. Parsons Shepherd painted portraits of many prominent figures including the mayor of St. John's and Prince Philip. She became a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Art in 1978 and received an honorary doctorate from Memorial University in 1988 (in conjunction with her husband). She worked not only in St. John's but in Clarke's Beach, and also on the Avalon Peninsula, during the summers until she reached the age of 85.
Media used
Ontario College of Art & Design (formerly Ontario School of Art), 1944 - 1948 (under George Pepper, Robert Pilot, John Alfsen & Hans Melis)
Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, 1978
Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council, 1980
File & Archive locations
University of British Columbia - Fine Arts Library
Winnipeg Art Gallery, MA - Clara Lander Library
National Gallery of Canada, ON - Library and Archives
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts / Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal, QC
Art Gallery of Ontario - Edward P. Taylor Research Library and Archives
Toronto Reference Library, ON
Canadian Women Artists History Initiative Documentation Centre, QC

Writings about
Art Gallery of Newfoundland and Labrador. "Permanent Collection: Helen Parsons Shepherd." St. John's, Newfoundland: Art Gallery of Newfoundland and Labrador, 2008.
Bailey, Ian. "Newfoundland Artists Paint Ostrich Eggs to Raise Money for Quidi Vidi Rennies River Development Foundation of St. John's." Canadian Press Newswire 10 Mar. 1996.
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. "St. John's Portraitist Helen Parsons Shepherd Dies at 85." Canadian Broadcasting Corporation 12 May 2008.
Grattan, Patricia and Caroline Stone. Twenty-Five Years of Art in Newfoundland: Some Significant Artists. St. John's, Newfoundland: Memorial University Art Gallery, 1987.
Grattan, Patricia and Peter Gard. Helen Parsons Shepherd and Reginald Shepherd: Four Decades. St. John's, Newfoundland: Memorial University Art Gallery, 1989.
MacDonald, Colin S. The Dictionary of Canadian Artists. (Volumes 1-8 by Colin S. MacDonald, and volume 9 by Anne Newlands and Judith Parker) Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada, 2009.
McMann, Evelyn de Rostaing. Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Formerly Art Association of Montreal: Spring Exhibitions, 1880-1970. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1988.
Memorial University of Newfoundland Art Gallery. Helen Parsons Shepherd. St. John's, Newfoundland: Memorial University Art Gallery, 1975.
Morgan, Bernice. "The Culture of Place." Newfoundland and Labrador Studies 19.2 (2003): 373-77.
Newfoundland Academy of Art. Paintings: March 1958, 51 Cochrane Street. St. John's, Newfoundland: Newfoundland Academy of Art, 1958.
Newfoundland Quarterly. "Honourary Doctorates Conferred on Husband-Wife Team." Newfoundland Quarterly 83.3 (1989): 2-3.
Rompkey, Ronald. Reginald Shepherd, Helen Parsons Shepherd: A Life Composed. St. John's, Newfoundland: Breakwater Books, 2005.
Sullivan, J. M. "Artist's Work Epitomizes Newfoundland." Globe and Mail (Toronto) 29 Jun. 2002: F9.
Sullivan, J. M. "The 'Court Painter' of Newfoundland Founded the Province's First Art School." Globe and Mail (Toronto) 4 Jul. 2008: S8.
Tippett, Maria. By a Lady. Toronto: Viking, 1992.

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