Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Frederick Shields 1883-1911

The book I own, which has provided us with much information, contains text that was written in memoriam to Warwick Brookes 1808-1882, artist, just after his death. Much of the information contained within it was provided by Thomas Letherbrow, a friend and fellow artist. Letherbrow also provided biographical reminiscences of Brookes in the book "Warwick Brookes Pencil Pictures Of Child Life".

Brookes mixed with the Manchester artists of the time, including William Hull 1820-1880 <Click> and was known to the members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood <Click>, and Frederick Shields <Click>. Brookes is mentioned in context with these artists in documents that are held in The National Archives, including the reproduction on Warwick's own page above, from the "Life and Letters of Frederick Shields". According to the text of the Manchester City News article, he and Warwick Brookes 1808-1882 became good friends later in Brookes' life.

Inside the front cover of my book is a signature, Wm. Gurney. Also pasted into the front cover is a newspaper clip of the obituary to Frederick Shields, as printed in The Daily Mail, after his death in 1911. The content is as follows:
Mr. Frederick Shields, the well known artist and book illustrator, died on Sunday at his residence, Morayfield, Merton, Surrey aged seventy seven.
He was one of the survivors of that wonderful circle of famous men which has left so deep a mark on Victorian literature and art. Among his personal friends were Ruskin, Burne-Jones, Rossetti, and Holman Hunt. Mr. Shields illustrated The Pilgrim's Progress and Defoe's Plague of London, but the crowning achievement of his career was the adornment of The Chapel of The Ascension, Hyde Park Place which originated in the wish of the late Mrs. Russell Gurney to provide passers by with a place for scriptual instruction by means of pictures as well as for rest. The 200 paintings took 14 years to complete. Mr. Shields began his career in Manchester as a designer for decorative lithography. Before his work obtained the notice it deserved, the artist had many struggles. At one time he executed chalk drawings of his father's friends at 7 shillings each.
From The Daily Mail February 28th 1911.

Mentioned in the text is "The late Mrs. Russell Gurney". I have found links between Russell Gurney <Click> and Shields, as mentioned in the obituary, and this also fits in with the fact that Brookes was mixing with society, and visiting their country houses at weekends. However, I have so far been unable to establish a link with the owner of my book, William Gurney.

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