Friday 17 November 2023

Raymond Sheppard and James Houston and Don O'Donnell

Lilliput May-June 1951, p.71

In a previous article I showed Raymond Sheppard's  illustrations for "The Riddle" by James Houston and Don O'Donnell. I thought I'd show the rest of the illustrations accompanying their other stories in Lilliput. Houston was born in Toronto in 1921 and died in 2005 but left a legacy for the Western world - his stories and appreciation of Inuit artworks. I'll say more on that below.

Lilliput May-June 1951, p.72-73

 "The other name" appeared in Lilliput May-June 1951 and is a tale of the Inuit and how they hunt seal for food and oil. The details are fascinating, how Aglo imitates the seal, popping up his head and then lying on the ice - ensuring the seal feels secure. However things don't go well for the hunters.

Lilliput May-June 1951, p.74
The illustrations show us Aglo throwing his harpoon at a seal; Aglo falling in the icy water with Ivik attempting to catch him and finally Ivik on his return to camp with his sad news, raising his harpoon above his head and taking his responsibility to take Aglo's wife and children and also Aglo's name - he is now Ivik-Aglo. Christine Sheppard still has the artwork for this story which I've added here
"Ivik threw his harpoon"

"Plunged into the icy water"

"Tailpiece for "The Other Name"


The next one appeared in Lilliput July-August 1951 and was called "The new lamp". We don't have the original artboards for this story, but it follows the adventures of Ivik-Aglo.


Lilliput July-August 1951, p.71
This story should really have been published first as we meet Ivik for the first time trying impress a girl who becomes his wife - Rangee. The first image above shows Ivik approaching Rangee's father's camp; the second the courtship discussion and Ivik's finely carved lamp and lastly Ivik's grabbing Rangee. 

Lilliput July-August 1951, p.72-73
Lilliput July-August 1951, p.74
The second image looks strange to me, as if the perspective is angled somewhat. Perhaps Sheppard was trying to imitate a cat's-eye lens?


This story appeared in Lilliput February-March 1952 and wrongly gives James Houston's writing partner as Don O'Donnel [sic]

Lilliput February-March 1952, p.72

Lilliput February-March 1952, p.73

Lilliput February-March 1952, p.74

The story concerns Tuktu, Ivik-Aglo's father-in-law and how he feels the cold and knows his memories are of earlier times when 'caribou took five days to pass through their camp' and they had enough to eat. He now decides to stay behind as the men go hunting and the women go to help. "He lay back on the sleeping robe and with a long sigh prepared to give up the fight with his lifelong enemy - the cold."

In the original art for p.74 (not shown) where Tuktu is dying it has an editorial addition stating "114" and the original art below for page 72 has "414" - the reproduction sizes expected. The indentation is there for the story title. Notice that the published images above have added colour which I think is because the corresponding pages in Lilliput in this issue are also coloured.

Lilliput February-March 1952, p.72

I can't find any evidence these stories were reprinted from a book [UPDATE: See Below] but the fact the first two above are in the wrong order makes me think they might be. If you know do email me or comment here please. The only connection between these stories and "The Riddle" is the name Ikuma, but I suspect this is coincidence as none of the others are mentioned.

Since my last article mentioning James Archibald Houston, a biography has appeared called "James Houston and the making of Inuit art", by John Ayre and published by McFarland & Company, Inc., 2023 which gives me an opportunity to show Houston to you

The oldest book I could find written by Houston is 1965 - a good 14 years after the appearance of his Lilliput stories mentioned above. The 2006 book James Houston's Treasury of Inuit legends contains the following stories, none of which coincide with the Lilliput stories - except by virtue of being set around the Inuit:  Tiktaliktak (1965); The white archer (1967); Akavak (1968) and Wolf Run (1971). The introduction mentions that he first flew into Inuit country in 1948 (which gives us a good date for the Lilliput stories). I was glancing through the memoirs Houston wrote in 1995 (Confessions of an igloo dweller)  and thought this short summary might be of interest.

These memoirs of James Houston's life in the Canadian Arctic from 1948 to 1962 present a colorful and compelling adventure story of real people living through a time of great change. It is extraordinarily rich material about a fascinating, distant world.
Houston, a young Canadian artist, was on a painting trip to Moose Factory at the south end of Hudson Hay in 1948. A bush pilot friend burst into his room with the news that a medical emergency meant that he could get a free flight into the heart of the eastern Arctic. When they arrived, Houston found himself surrounded by smiling Inuit — short, strong, utterly confident people who wore sealskins and spoke no English. By the time the medical plane was about to leave. Houston had decided to stay.
It was a decision that changed his life, for more than a dozen years he spent his time being educated by those kindly, patient people who became his friends. He slept in their igloos, ate raw fish and seal meat, wore skin clothing, traveled by dog team, hunted walrus, and learned how to build a snowhouse. While doing so, he helped change the North.
Impressed by the natural artistic skills of the people, he encouraged the development of outlets in the South for their work, and helped establish co-ops in the North for Inuit carvers and print-makers. Since that time, after trapping as a way of gaining income began to disappear. Inuit art has brought millions of dollars to its creators, and has affected art galleries around the world.
In the one hundred short chapters that make up this book. James Houston tells about his fascinating and often hilarious adventures in a very different culture. He tells of raising a familv in the Arctic (his sons bursting into tears on being told they were not really Inuit), and of the failure to introduce soccer to a people who refused to look on other humans as opponents. He tells about great characters — Inuit and kallunait — who populated the Arctic in these long-lost days when, as a government go-between, he found himself  grappling with Northern customs that broke Southern laws.
A remarkable, modestly told story by a truly remarkable man.

The biography (obviously written 10 years before he passed away) that appears at the back states:

JAMES HOUSTON, a Canadian author-artist, served with the Toronto Scottish Regiment in World War II, 1940-45, then lived among Inuit of the Canadian Arctic for twelve years as a Northern Service Officer, then as the first Administrator of west Baffin Island, a territory of 65,000 square miles. Widely acknowledged as the prime force in the development of Eskimo Art, he is past chairman of both the American Indian Arts Centre and the Canadian Eskimo Arts Council and a director of the Association on American Indian Affairs. He has been honored with the American Indian and Eskimo Cultural Foundation Award, the 1979 Inuit Kuavati Award of Merit, and is an Officer of the Order of Canada.
Among his writings, The White Dawn has been published in thirty-one editions worldwide. That novel and Ghost Fox. Spirit Wrestler, and Eagle Song have been selections of major book clubs. His last novel, Running West, won the Canadian Authors Association Book of the Year Award. Author and illustrator of more than a dozen children's books, he is the only person to have won the Canadian Library Association Book of the Year Award three times. He has also written screenplays for feature films, has created numerous documentaries, and continues to lecture widely.
Mr. Houston's drawings, paintings, and sculptures are internationally represented in many museums and private collections. He is Master Designer for Steuben Glass. He created the seventy-foot-high central sculpture in the Glenbow-Alberta Art Museum.
Houston, now a dual citizen of Canada and the United States, and his wife, Alice, divide the year between a colonial privateer's house in New England and a writing retreat on the bank of a salmon river on the Queen Charlotte Islands in British Columbia, a few miles south of Alaska, where he has written many of these memoirs.

I still can't find much on his writing partner, which is a shame, but what a fascinating man James Houston was. 

UPDATE: 20 November 2023

John Wigmans found an article in Dutch which included a photo of Houston and wife but more importantly, he discovered that one of the four short stories was mentioned in the above biography. He sent me this screenshot and interestingly it mentions two of the four Lilliput stories (The New lamp plus "The Riddle), and that "[with] Don O'Donnell, he wrote a series of four stories for the Montreal weekend supplement "The Standard [i.e. I presume the Montreal Standard )

"James Houston and the making of Inuit art", by John Ayre, p.40
Thanks John.

Saturday 14 October 2023

Auctions and sketches

I wanted to highlight an auction coming up in a Cambridge auctioneers. "The Mugglestone Collection" is being auctioned off - after a successful sale in September more is now available for the auction - being handled by for Monday 23 October 2023 (17:00).

The reason I'm mentioning it is that "The Mugglestone Collection including Snaffles and Sporting Art - Timed Online" contains two nice Sheppard pieces. You can read more about the collection on Cheffins website.

Lot #235

This gorgeously delicate watercolour of Fallow Deer, is a new one to me. Its provenance is given as the Keyser Gallery and the estimate is £200-£300.

§ Raymond Sheppard (1913-1958)
Fallow Bucks
signed lower right
34.5 x 53cm; framed 54 x 71cm

Lot #234

The second watercolour is of two polar bears in a wonderful chilly sky. It's described as 

§ Raymond Sheppard (1913-1958)
Polar bears
signed lower left
38 x 56cm; framed 60 x 78cm

with an estimate of £150-£300. Interestingly Cheffins, the auctioneers have tried selling this in the past in April 2021. 

And as we are discussing deer here are a few studies and sketches that Raymond Sheppard drew. I'm always amazed at how much work he did in addition to the published work I usually share.

Raymond Sheppard: Deer studies

Three studies (SkD36 Deer standing & outline) showing the rear of a deer standing, a seated deer and finally a beautiful study in light falling on a standing deer.

Raymond Sheppard: Deer studies

Sheppard was not scared of observing and recording from different angles and using different media. Note the subtle use of outlining in colour plus the shading for 'bulking' the form. (SkD29 Deer standing studies)

Raymond Sheppard: Deer studies

The shape of a deer's head is worthy of study alone and below we have three studies in outline in blue pen. Amazing artistry!

Wednesday 20 September 2023

Raymond Sheppard and Brian Marks' found artworks (Part Three)

Brian Marks (Part One) is here
Brian Marks (Part Two) is here

Now we have the other artworks which are lovely but have nothing to help me identify them - those who know me, know that won't stop me commenting! The collection comes from Brian Marks' father and is in such good condition. Same thing as last time, I'd recommend going to his Flickr account if you want to see these in hi-resolution as I've uploaded a smaller size here and downloaded the best version for my records

Magpies on nest, Raymond Sheppard
38.5 cm x 30 cm

Magpies and gold ring
I love the clarity of the offering from one magpie to another of a gold ring to join the others sketched in within the nest. The woodland recedes in the background is a very sketchy manner. But those birds show Sheppard's observation skills and I recently surprised my Grandson, they do have blue on the feathers!

Prone body
36.5 cm x 26.5 cm, Pastel, unsigned Raymond Sheppard

Prone figure

I have good news here. It took me a while but I found it in my collection of published work: Everybody's 5 December 1953 has a story "Ship with a cargo of murder" by Captain R. Barry O'Brien and the image heading up the story shows this prone body in place!

Everybody's 5 December 1953, p.30
It has a caption: "Almost before the Captain could cry out Big George had stabbed him twice and the other Greeks had disposed of the mate". It's very interesting to see that Sheppard has used one medium for the sketch and put so much detail into it. And I think I'm right in saying, it looks like Raymond Sheppard himself modelling for the prone body!

Tiger cub
22.5 cm x 18 cm, unsigned Raymond Sheppard , board

Tiger cub
Again I can comment here. Christine has in her cuttings collection an example of a Christmas card with - you guessed it - this very tiger cub. It also was signed and produced with a single colour

Coloured Christmas card with tiger cub

Lion, Raymond Sheppard
28.5 cm x 53 cm


Lion and Puff Adder, Raymond Sheppard
34.5 cm x 44.5 cm, "Lion and puff adder, Africa"

Lion and Puff Adder (Africa)

Both of the above lion images are interesting as they look to be drawn around the same time, same media, same paper. The subjects are common to Sheppard's work. Art Directors knew he could produce exciting shots of animals in situ. But I have no other information on these, but wouldn't be surprised to find they were published somewhere, early on in his career. 

Fox in Woodland, Raymond Sheppard
44 cm x 37.5 cm deframed painting

Fox in woodland

Christine Sheppard owns many images of woodland scenes - quite a few created around Mill Hill, London. But I must say this is the most interesting due to the branches drawn on the landscape here.

So finally we come to how Brian has these images to share with us.

It started with a cold call email - which I am happy to receive - saying 

"I have several Raymond Sheppard pictures. They belonged to my father, who kept them under his bed for 50 years. They are not in great condition and I am wondering what to do to preserve them, or perhaps get some of them restored. if the value justified that." 

I don't know anything about preservation except to say keep a lot of artwork out of sunlight! But when it came to seeing the images, of course I was super excited. here's the story:

"In brief, the work was given to my [late] Dad when he left lodgings in the artist's house. He rented a room there in the years after Raymond's death."

"At the age of 26 in 1959 Dad concluded his service in the army and secured a job in London at GEC. We believe a colleague from work suggested that he reside where he was staying, which happened to be with the Sheppards. I discovered a telegram addressed to the Sheppards notifying Dad of his own father's passing, dated 1962, indicating that he lived with them for a few years.  He met Mum around 1964, I believe, at a point when he had already moved out of the house but likely remained in the vicinity"

Christine mentioned the following:

"I certainly remember Ron Marks very well when he lodged with our family (my mother and brother and I) from 1959. He was a very kind man to us all and we spent quite a lot of time together. As I remember it, he had lived in Sidmouth, Devon and his mother came to stay with us from there at least once for a little break. He worked at GEC a short bus ride away in Stanmore and his work colleague whose name I cannot remember also lodged with us"

I'm so grateful to Brian, his Mum and Christine Sheppard for their interest and kindness in adding to the story. Brian also sent along some photos of the time his Dad was staying at the Sheppard's home which pleased Christine no end as she remembered Brian's Dad well.

Friday 1 September 2023

Raymond Sheppard and Brian Marks' found artworks (Part Two)

Brian Marks (Part One) is here

So let's continue working through the fantastic collection of Brian Marks' father. I'd recommend going to his Flickr account if you want to see these in hi-resolution as I've uploaded a smaller size here and downloaded the best version for my records

The Old Man and the Sea, rejected image? Raymond Sheppard 22 cm x 19.5 cm, Old Man and the Sea, "NO" on protective cover sheet - rejected image?, Page 50 - "He adjusted the sack and carefully worked his way back"

The Old Man and the Sea Text on p.49
This is wonderful to see. I've covered the Hemingway classic "The Old Man and the Sea" before (Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3) and included some unpublished drawings and here are more in my opinion. The text on this first image appears actually on page 49 of the older editions of which I have three and I checked. This image has an almost linocut look to it!

Dolphins, Raymond Sheppard
23 cm x 16 cm, "No" written on protective cover sheet, rejected image? Page 70 - Dolphin


The Old Man and the Sea Text on p.67-68

Now, this image is interesting as they look nothing like dolphins and Raymond Sheppard the consummate animal artist would know that. Early on in the book, the man encounters a black bird (a cormorant?) fishing and diving and he realises the flying fish are being chased by dolphin. 

But as you can see Brian tells us that the image above has "Page 70" written on it.  On pages 67-68 the man encounters a dolphin on his line and a passage begins of his lonely journey and his gutting the dolphin. I noticed that Tunnicliffe's illustration of this shows, not a dolphin, but similar fish to the above and that set me searching. 

I had never heard of a dolphin fish - or Mahi-Mahi but once I started reading I realised why in the book the man calls the 'dolphin' Dorado (page 69) as they sheen like gold. Mystery solved! It was relatively easy for me to search online, but how did Tunnicliffe and Sheppard know the Hemingway references were to smaller fish called 'dolphin'?

The Old Man and the Sea, rejected image?, Raymond Sheppard
24 cm x 20 cm, "NO" written on protective cover sheet, rejected image? "Page 53 - '...would have pulled him overboard'"

The Old Man and the Sea Text on p.49

The third of these unpublished drawings shows the weary man in the bow of the boat holding fast to the line.

Just then the fish gave a sudden lurch that pulled the old man down onto the bow and would have pulled him overboard if he had not braced himself and given some line (p.53)

Shark Pack, Raymond Sheppard
24 cm x 33 cm "They came in a pack" Rejected image? "NO" written on protective cover sheet

The Old Man and the Sea Text on p.108

There are two obvious 'shark' stories in Lilliput (April-May 1951 "Half a ton of tail" by Charles Osborne and July 1956 "Last dive" by John Sidney) but neither have that text or that page number as a likely candidate. However the shape of the image is so like Lilliput or Everybody's illustrations I've seen. "Page 114" was the clue that set me looking in "The Old Man and the Sea" again - and sure enough, this passage (page 108) begins just like that:

But by midnight he fought and this time he knew the fight was useless. They came in a pack and he could only see the lines in the water that their fins made and their phosphorescence as they threw themselves on the fish.

Illustration, Raymond Sheppard
27 cm x 19.5 cm "Page 124 - He started to cry again" "NO" written on protective cover sheet.

The Old Man and the Sea Text on p.113

Well, this caused me a lot trouble. That 'tankard' is steaming. Is the man the owner of the establishment, or has he made the boy, who's serving the drink, cry? I remembered that in "The Old Man and the Sea" the sad ending has the boy crying so went back to reading. And imagine my surprise! 

He went into the Terrace and asked for a can of coffee.
“Hot and with plenty of milk and sugar in it.”
“Anything more?”
“No. Afterwards I will see what he can eat.”
“What a fish it was,” the proprietor said. “There has never been such a fish. Those were two fine fish you took yesterday too.”
“Damn my fish,” the boy said and he started to cry again.
So I think Brian will be pleased to learn 5 images are from the one book. These five images remind me of what a tremendous read "The Old Man and the Sea" is!

Owl, Raymond Sheppard
24 cm x 27 cm, "- SHADOW OF DOUBT - (Page 2 of paste up) As it spread its wings and glided downwards, I could see that it held a body in its talons"

Original art

I was excited when I saw this image as the whole left-hand side has been 'whited-out' and did not appear in the published version in the magazine Young Elizabethan (March 1955, page 29). It accompanied the story "Shadow of a doubt" by Leighton Houghton. Why the decision was made to eliminate the two boys - just visible - we may never know but the published version still shows off Raymond Sheppard's talent of bringing birds to life.

Young Elizabethan March 1955 p.29
Trylla, Raymond Sheppard
16.5 cm x 25,5 cm "TRYLLA - FRONTIS PIECE -from page 2 'Trylla was obliged to stay outside the group'"

Trylla and other small fry - Frontispiece

I'll write about this book "Trylla and other small fry" by Gunnar Gunnarsson (and translated by Evelyn Ramsden), at a later date as it contains a dozen images by Sheppard. It was published by Hutchinson in their series 'Hutchinson's Books for Young people' circa 1947 and this is the original art for the frontispiece. As it was used in the position opposite the title page, it didn't get published with the caption listed on the original board.    

Pride of Lions, Raymond Sheppard
26.5 cm x 17 cm, "Page 21, illustration for head of page"

The Old Man and the Sea POSSIBLY p.19

After all the detective work and luck with the "The Old Man and the Sea", I went looking there first but couldn't remember any lions in that story! However, the old man does mention in passing having seen lions on the beach - and this does appear early on in the book (page 19), but this might be from somewhere completely different. So I shall leave this one open until I find it elsewhere, - what do you think?

 “When I was your age I was before the mast on a square rigged ship that ran to Africa and I have seen lions on the beaches in the evening.” “I know. You told me.” “Should we talk about Africa or about baseball?” “Baseball I think,” the boy said.

Part Three of Brian's collection, to follow

Friday 18 August 2023

Raymond Sheppard and Brian Marks' found artworks (Part One)

I have had a lovely surprise when Brian Marks contacted me to share a story:

I have several Raymond Sheppard pictures. They belonged to my father, who kept them under his bed for 50 years. They are not in great condition and I am wondering what to do to preserve them, or perhaps get some of them restored. if the value justified that.

Brian then suggested he could give me access if I was interested!

The collection is on Flickr at hi-resolution and different sizes to download. I've just placed some smaller versions here, so do go to Brian's site for the glorious detail!

"Buffalo and Tiger"

Buffalo and tiger, Raymond Sheppard
40 cm x 31.5 cm, ROUGH for "I shot the devil tiger" "He had avoided those terrible sabre-tipped horns by inches"

I suspect this comes from Everybody's 19 January 1957 story "How I killed the devil tiger" by Ivan Cameron. The illustration appears on page 23 with the caption "I lay completely still under the tiger. Then, charging towards us through the grass, came a buffalo. He had spotted his natural enemy" - note the man on the right pinned down! I could be wrong in my attribution but do wonder if the original was a sketch given to an Art Director who asked for a changed perspective. But I have to confess the words "sabre-tipped horns are not present in the published version!

Everybody's 19 January 1957
And coincidentally I have a photo of the original art which shows the proposed title was going to be "I shot the devil tiger" before publication as "How I killed the devil tiger".
Original art

Flash the Otter, Raymond Sheppard
42 cm x 31.5 cm Young Liz?(Feb), "Flash the Otter"............suddenly he twisted and bit the fish behind the head.

Young Elizabethan February 1957 p.19

This is an easy one as I've shown this in its full glory before. It comes form the magazine "Young Elizabethan" February 1957 on page 19.

Foxes, Raymond Sheppard
37 cm x 27.5 cm, Young Elizabethan, Illustration to "Who'll feed my cubs" "Each time he carried a plump cockerel"

Original art

This story was published in Young Elizabethan September 1957 on page 10, as can be seen below. It was titled "Who will feed my Cubs?" and written by Mary Henderson.The caption on the original art was not used but highlights which part of the story is illustrated.

Young Elizabethan September 1957 p.10

Trap in the Tide, Raymond Sheppard
42.5 cm x 29.5 cm

Original art

Brian has found this already, but for his pleasure it was published in July 1955 in Lilliput in an article labelled "Trap in the tide" written by Malcolm Monteith and looks like this. Notice, as I've observed elsewhere the colours don't quite reflect the original art which is lovely to see.


Lilliput July 1955, pp48-49

African Buffalo? Raymond Sheppard
23.5 cm x 17 cm, Lilliput July Page 43 MONO

Original art

This comes from "The big bull" by Neil Ewing (Lilliput July 1955, page 43) where two other images are drawn by Sheppard (that's for another time). Text wraps in two columns around the African buffalo - notice the size prescription on the original art "2⅛ inches".

Lilliput July 1955, p43

Christine Sheppard owns a rough sketch which is obviously practice for the above illustration (or did her Dad do the sketch first using it for the above? Christine tells of her many visits accompanying her father to London Zoo for him to sketch animals and birds)

African Buffalo sketch

Birds in fishing net, Raymond Sheppard
15.5 cm x 23 cm, "Black/Green, illustration no 2, February ???"

Original art

This story "The snare of the fowler" was by Colin Willcock and appeared in Lilliput February 1955 on page 22 as shown below. The title page of the story also shows geese being trapped in nets.  Notice again a change in colour upon publication from orange to "black/green" as stated on the artwork in pencil. The title comes from Psalm 91:3 in the Old Testament.

Lilliput February 1955, p22

Calving Ice, Raymond Sheppard
49.5 cm x 15 cm, LILLIPUT (crossed out)

Original art
This gorgeous shot shows two men in a row boat encountering seals and kittiwakes as, as Brian points out, some ice calves. It was published as the opening shot in Lilliput September-October 1951 for "The birth of a berg" by James Fisher and another illustration shows some seal heads.

Here's the published version - hard to get flat as the little pocket book versions of the earlier Lilliputs are!

Lilliput September-October 1951, pp84-85
NEXT TIME: More of Brian Marks' collection examined