George Sheringham, PS RDI (1884-1937) The versatile and eclectic artist, George Sheringham, found his forte when he became a designer of interiors and theatrical productions. In drawing on a deep knowledge of both western and eastern traditions, he created highly seductive worlds of fantasy.
George Sheringham was born in London on 13 November 1884, the elder son of the Rev Harry Alsager Sheringham, the then Vicar of St Peter’s Westminster. Educated at the King’s School, Gloucester, he studied under Henry Tonks at the Slade School of Art (1899- 1901), and then under Harry Becker (1901-4). In 1904, he moved to Paris, and there developed his decorative style through visits to the collection of Eastern art at the Musée Guimet. Exhibiting at the Paris Salon, he may have held solo shows in 1905, in Paris and at the Ryder Gallery, London.
While in France, he met and became engaged to Sybil Meugens (1877-1941), the daughter of an English accountant of Belgian descent, who was making her way as a painter. Returning to England in about 1907, he held a solo show in London’s Brook Street Gallery in 1908, and then travelled in various parts of Europe and, most significantly, Algeria. At his debut as a decorative artist, at the Ryder Gallery in 1910, he exhibited silk panels that encouraged much interest and led to commissions to paint Chinoiserie panels for Judge Evans and Sir Albert Levy.
Following their marriage on 25 January 1912, George and Sybil Sheringham lived for a while with his family, in Northamptonshire and London, before moving to a house at Besant Cottage, 106 Frognal, Hampstead. They then shared their time between Frognal and Little Blenheim, Steeple Barton, Oxfordshire.
In turning to book illustration in 1915, with an edition of Max Beerbohm’s The Happy Hypocrite, Sheringham made use of eighteenth-century imagery, which held him in good stead as a theatrical designer. His first set designs, for the Plough Club in 1917, foreshadowed long associations with the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company and Nigel Playfair at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith. Throughout the 1920s, he worked as both a theatrical and an interior designer, in Oriental and Baroque styles, a versatility that helped him win the Grand Prix at the Paris Salon in 1925. At the end of the decade, he accomplished his finest decorative scheme, for Eric Hamilton Rose at Leweston Manor, Dorset, by producing a number of murals based on the analysis of the rhythmic character of Oriental art. His achievements in interior decoration and textiles led him to be one of the first to be awarded the distinction of Royal Designer for Industry, in 1936. However, from 1932, ill health forced him to confine his movements, and in consequence he concentrated on still life painting. He exhibited a number of such subjects, in March 1937, in a solo show at the Fine Art Society. He died a few months later at his home in London on 11 November 1937. He had been a member of the Pastel Society and the London Sketch Club.
His work is represented in numerous public collections, including the British Museum and the V&A; and Nottingham City Museums and Galleries