Today, 28th October, would have been the 112th birthday of Francis Bacon (1909-1992). As one of the greatest artists of the 20th century, his early years as a painter, textile and furniture designer are surprisingly under documented; he destroyed many of his early works and there is little biographical detail about his early artistic exploits. Bacon held the first exhibition in his Queensbury Mews flat in November 1930. which was to be the first show Bacon became noticed by the art world. Yet he was the junior to two established artists he shared it with: an Australian artist Roy de Meistre (1894-1968) and a female British artist and actress. The latter was Jean Shepeard (British, 1904-1989) who attended both the Slade School of Fine Art and RADA and was to be the only female artist to ever exhibit with Bacon.
Batemans are delighted to offer the Jean Shepeard Collection for auction in our 6th November sale. The collection is part of the estate of Shepeard’s niece, the sculptor Doreen Kern (British, 1931-2021). Included within the auction are many new to the market drawings and ephemera, including lot 4, a previously unseen possible portrait of Francis Bacon, as well as lot 2, an archive of Shepeard’s letters and photographs, containing two still photographs of Bacon’s 1930s Kings Road flat. The collection spans thirty-five lots and features over six hundred original sketches.
Besides Bacon, Shepeard exhibited with many other artists of note, such as her lover Ronald Ossory Dunlop (Irish, 1894-1973). Within the sale items, there is evidence of their close relationship such as lot 1, a portrait by Dunlop of Shepeard, and lot 3, a collection of sketches of Dunlop, original photographs of the artist, and a copy of his autobiography with a handwritten dedication to Shepeard.
Shepeard led a fascinating life beyond her art, as an actor, theatre owner and associate of the Bloomsbury group. She shared a flat with Dame Peggy Ashcroft, the stage with Sir John Gielgud, and the billing with Sir Michael Redgrave and James Mason, in the 1942 film Thunder Rock. Within the collection are items relating to her work and social circles, with invitations and candid photographs, including one featuring Shepeard and the Brave New World author, Aldous Huxley (without his spectacles).
The Jean Shepeard Collection, will be sold as an online only auction on Saturday November 6th, 2021.