Painter, decorator and illustrator, Byam Shaw was born in Madras. He studied at the St John's Wood School of Art and at the RA Schools. His works are usually in the Pre-Raphaelite style of J. W. Waterhouse and Cadogan Cowper, painted in the pure pigments which made his work brilliantly colourful. He was also an accomplished draughtsman man. Together with Rex Vicat Cole he was a partner in the School of Art, Campden Hill ("The Byam Shaw School" [FAS catalogue]
Byam Shaw carried the torch of Pre-Raphaelitism across the turn of the century, a period when books and exhibitions had renewed interest in the Brotherhood's work. In his paintings he revived the Brotherhood's use of bright, pure glazes and restated their belief of the importance of truth and sincerity in art. Moreover, he turned to literature and history for inspiration. Literary allusions and elaborate symbolism were used to great effect by William Holman Hunt in his The Awakening Conscience to reveal some of the more pressing social problems of the age.
A Century of of Master Drawings, Watercolours, & Works in Egg Tempera. London: Peter Nahum, nd.
Cole, Rex Vicat . The Art and Life of Byam Shaw. London, 1932. p. 213.
Nahum, Peter, and Sally Burgess. Pre-Raphaelite-Symbolist-Visionary. London: Peter Nahum at Leicester Galleries.
The Paintings, Water-colours, and Drawings from the Handley-Read Collection. Exhibition catalogue. London: Fine Art Society, 1974. No. 70.
"Some Pictures by Byam Shaw." The Studio. 16 (1899): 259-65. [text]