Born in Richmond, Virginia, American artist William Sheppard was variously a watercolorist, illustrator, teacher, and painter. He first made his mark in commercial art as the designer of tobacco labels. His artistic preparation was extensive: New York City, Paris before 1860, and London and Paris after the American Civil War (1877-1878). When the Civil War broke out he was at twenty-seven a dedicated supporter of the South; he joined the Richmond Howitzers in the Army of Northern Virginia, and eventually reached an officer’s rank in the engineering corps. During the four years of war service he spent most of his spare time drawing and painting his fellow soldiers. He thus provided valuable visual records of the American Civil War from the perspective of a Southerner.
After the armistice of 1865, the former Lieutenant pursued a career in painting and book illustration, and even earned commissions as a sculptor. His most significant periodical illustration is a humorous childhood piece, Caught in the Act, in Harper's Bazar (Vol. VIII): 22 May 1875. His most significant commission as a monumental sculptor was The Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument, in Richmond, Virginia. Among the magazines for which he worked are Harper's Weekly and Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper. His style and taste were well suited to his best known book illustrations, those which he completed for Henry Watterson's Oddities in Southern Life and Character. He was just one of five prominent illustrators whom Harper & Co. commissioned to work on the seven New York volumes of the Household Edition of the 1870s, Some of his work is still accessible, including the painting Boys Catching Rabbits and Caught in the Act from Harper's Bazaar (Vol. VIII: 22 May 22 1875).
The Harper and Brothers' version of the Household Edition was just sixteen volumes (instead of the twenty-two-volume set issued in London by Chapman and Hall), and came out between 1872 and 1877. Those volumes that were illustrated by the five internationally-known American artists are as follows:
- The Old Curiosity Shop by Thomas Worth (1872);
- Dombey and Son by W. L. Sheppard (1873);
- Pickwick Papers by Thomas Nast (1873);
- Nicholas Nickleby by C. S. Reinhart (1875);
- Christmas Stories by E. A. Abbey (1876);
- Hard Times by C. S. Reinhart (1876);
- Pictures from Italy and American Notes by Thomas Nast (1877).
Fifty-two Illustrations for Dickens's Dombey and Son (1873)
- The Wedding-Day [frontispiece]
- [Uncaptioned Title-page vignette of Captain Cuttle]
- [Uncaptioned headpiece for Chapter One: The first Mrs. Dombey dies]
- "You had better consult your husband." [Ch. II]
- "Go to Richards! Go!" [Ch. III]
- "You must not distress yourself, my dear!" [Ch. V]
- A Bunch of Pippins. [Ch. VI]
- "Pretty, indeed! I never saw such a face!"
- "I wonder why it didn't save my Mamma!" [Ch. VIII]
- "The sea, Floy, what is it that it keeps on saying?"
- "Wal'r?" — "I've got it." [Ch. X]
- "I am glad of that" [Ch. XI]
- Cornelia took him first to the school-room. [Ch. XII]
- "If you had to die." [Ch. XIII]
- "Only myself." [Ch. XIII]
- "But what is the matter, Floy?" [Ch. XIV]
- "Now, Wal'r, my boy, you may help me on with them slops." [Ch. XV]
- Sister and brother wound their arms around each other [Ch. XVI]
- "I don't remember that I was ever better." [Ch. XVII]
- "Remember we with pity and forgiveness." [Ch. XIX]
- "What I want, is heart." [Ch. XXI]
- Diogenes holding on to the leg of his pantaloons. [Ch. XXII]
- They stood upon the deck on the "Cautious Clara." [Ch. XXII]
- "Gone!" roared the Captain. [Ch. XXV]
- The Native in a perfect state of drill. [Ch. XXVI]
- "And you thought I loved him.". [Ch. XXVIII]
- "I can bear much, but not too much." [Ch. XXIX]
- "Punctual to your time, sir." [Ch. XXXI]
- The Captain turned his back, and bent his head down on the little chimney-piece [Ch. XXXII]
- "I used to be handsome once." [Ch. XXXIII]
- "Softly, dear Mamma! Papa is asleep." [Ch. XXXV]
- "I have heard the circumstances, sir, and I know that you pervert them." [Ch. XXXVII]
- "And you're agoing to desert your colors, are you, my lad?" [Ch. XXXVIII]
- "Come, come, my lamb, awast, awast!" said Bunsby. [Ch. XXXIX]
- "You're all affection and et cetera, ain't you?" [Ch. XL]
- "I do not hesitate to say to you that I will carry my point." [Ch. XLII]
- "That it's a sinful shame." [Ch. XLIV]
- "Oh! Why can't you leave a poor cove alone, Misses Brown?" [Ch. XLV]
- From each arm she unclasped a diamond bracelet. [Ch. XLVII]
- "What cheer now, my pretty, what cheer now?" [Ch. XLVIII]
- "Welcome home, dear Walter!" [Ch. XLIX]
- "We can not [sic] always command our feelings, Captain Gillis." [Ch. L]
- "A shot is to be taken at this man." [Ch. LI]
- Mrs. Brown instantly directed the clutch of her right hand at his hair. [Ch. LII]
- "Let me in! Let me in!" [Ch. LIII]
- "Stand still! she said, "or I shall murder you!" [Ch. LIV]
- He saw them bringing from a distance something covered. [Ch. LV]
- "Sol Gillis, ahoy!" [Ch. LVI]
- The voices in the waves are always whispering to Florence. [Ch. LVII]
- "Who'll soon get better, I say," repeated the old woman. [Ch. LVIII]
- "Oh, my God, forgive me!" [Ch. LIX]
- "What, Grandpa? Am I so like my poor little uncle again?" [Ch. LXII, p. 354]
Related Material, including Other Illustrated Editions of Dombey and Son (1846-1924)
- Hablot Knight Browne's 40 original serial steel engravings for the serial (October, 1846, through April, 1848)
- Dombey and Son (homepage)
- O. C. Darley's Frontispiece in the New York edition (Vol. 1, 1862)
- O. C. Darley's Frontispiece in the New York edition (Vol. 2, 1862)
- O. C. Darley's Frontispiece in the New York edition (Vol. 3, 1862)
- Sol Eytinge, Junior's 16 Diamond Edition Illustrations (1867)
- Fred Barnard's 61 Illustrations for the British Household Edition (1877)
- The Harper and Brothers & Chapman and Hall Household Editions
- W. H. Ç. Groome's illustrations of the Collins Pocket Edition of Dombey and Son (1900, rpt. 1934)
- Kyd's five Player's Cigarette Card watercolours (1910)
- Harry Furniss's 29 illustrations for the Charles Dickens Library Edition (1910)
- Harold Copping's Captain Cuttle's Bright Idea (1924)
Artist Biography & Facts: William Sheppard. Ask Art. https://www.askart.com/artist/William_Ludwell_Ludlow_Sheppard/29605/William_Ludwell_Ludlow_Sheppard.aspx
Cutshaw, Wilfred (designer) and W. L. Sheppard (sculptor). Confederate Soldiers & Sailors Monument. Libby Hill Park, Richmond, VA. 1887-1894. HMdb.org The Historical Marker Database. https://www.hmdb.org/m.asp?m=16230.
Dickens, Charles. Dombey and Son. Illustrated by W. L. Sheppard. The Household Edition. 18 vols. New York: Harper & Co., 1873. [This is the second of nine volumes in the exclusively American edition.]
Grant, Marena Rollins. William Ludwell Sheppard; a retrospective exhibition of his works, December, 1969. Richmond, VA: The Valentine Museum. https://www.worldcat.org/title/william-ludwell-sheppard-a-retrospective-exhibition-of-his-works-december-1969/oclc/7418852#reviews.
_____. William Ludwell Sheppard, artist-illustrator. Master's thesis. Richmond, VA: The University of Virgina, 1970. https://www.worldcat.org/title/william-ludwell-sheppard-artist-illustrator/oclc/3693868.
"Lieu. William Ludwell Sheppard." Find a Grave. [Buried Mar. 28, 1912] https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/84986398/william-ludwell-sheppard
McCarthy Carlton. Detailed Minutiae of Soldier Life in the Army of Northern Virginia, 1861-1865. Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press, 1993.
Pyrnelle, Louise Clarke, and William Ludwell Sheppard (illustrator). Diddie, Dumps, and Tot; or, Plantation child-life New York: Harper & Bros. 1910.
Sheppard, William Ludlow. Caught in the Act. Harper's Bazar. Vol. VIII.
_____. A Picnic in the Country. Harper's Weekly. 1867. https://www.pinterest.ca/pin/136304326209509806/
_____. A Spring Scene near Richmond, Virginia. Harper's Weekly, 21 May 1870, p. 321.
"Sheppard, William Ludwell 1833-1912." OCLC WorldCat Identities. http://worldcat.org/identities/lccn-nr89013669/
Created 18 December 2021