James Allen SHUFFREY (1859–1939)
7 Narrow Hill, Woodgreen, Witney
James Allen Shuffrey was born in 1859 into an old Woodgreen family of blanket weavers and tanners of Huguenot origin who had lived at 7 Narrow Hill since the early eighteenth century. He went to school at the Corn Exchange in Witney and was inspired to paint by a Miss Cropper who came from Oxford once a week. These were the only painting lessons he ever had.
From 1877 he earned his living as a bank clerk at the London County Bank in Abingdon and later in Arundel and Petersfield but his real passion was for painting and in 1902 he chose to make his home in Oxford and devoted himself entirely to painting the scenes he loved so much. From 1912 to 1930 he taught art at Summerfields where two of his pupils were Victor Pasmore and John Merton. He also produced a series of popular postcards of famous Oxford scenes. His homes in Oxford were at Thorncliffe Road, 51 Holywell and 99 Kingston Road (or 19a St Margaret’s).
Shuffrey was one of the first members of the British Watercolour Society and is especially celebrated for his images of ninteenth- and early twentieth-century Oxford. He was a topographical artist who faithfully recorded colleges, streets and secluded passages and set himself the task of painting buildings soon to be demolished, leaving a unique visual record. His watercolours, with their distinctive mellow hues and pleasant scenes, evoke nostalgia for a vanished world. He went out into Oxfordshire in pony and trap, cycling on a Penny Farthing and later a tricycle in order to paint rural scenes; he made twenty eight painting trips to all parts of Britain and one to Germany. Many of his paintings and drawings (gifted originally by the artist himself in 1934) are held by Oxfordshire County Council and are quite often exhibited in the Woodstock Museum.
Source: The book J. A. Shuffrey, an Oxford Artist’s Life Remembered by Lauren Gilmour and Margaret Shuffrey, available from libraries and from the Witney Museum, is richly illustrated with the watercolours.
The plaque was unveiled at 7 Woodgreen, Witney on Saturday 17 May 2008. Mrs Margaret Shuffrey performed the unveiling and several Shuffrey descendants were in attendance.
Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Board
was born and lived here
Witney Town Hall Charity