[Skip to content]


Percy Shakespeare Collection

Percy Shakespeare (1906 -1943) "Dudley's Painter"

Percy Shakespeare, a very talented artist, was one of Dudley’s most famous artistic sons. In a short life he overcame many disadvantages to carve out a career as a painter. By cruel fate he was killed in 1943 when he was only 37. He had already become a regular exhibitor at the Royal Academy and had a picture accepted by the Paris Salon. As a painter he was just getting into his stride.

The artist studied at Dudley School of Art and rose from humble beginnings to become the most celebrated artist Dudley has produced in the last 100 years. Dudley Museum used to house the Dudley School of Art where Shakespeare began his love affair with art. Dudley Museums Service owns a number of pictures by him.

Through the 1930s Percy embarked on a series of oil paintings showing groups of people at leisure. These compositions were the result of intense work with many preliminary drawings of the component figures. The drawings themselves are of considerable merit in their own right. He painted one or two of these compositions each year and submitted them to the Royal Academy. Often they were accepted. They are remarkable in their colour and figure arrangements and together they capture the spirit of the Thirties. He subsisted on a few hours teaching a week. He had no studio and often painted in his

small bedroom in the family council house on the Wren’s Nest. When the Second World War broke out Percy continued to paint with even more determination. Even after he was called up for the navy he painted. He was doing special work in a naval shore establishment at Roedean School near Brighton. He went for a walk alone on the cliffs and there where he thought himself safe he was blown to pieces

by a stray German bomb.

He left behind many figure drawings, portraits in oil, and his ‘Thirties at Leisure’ compositions. Poignantly, his best works were still unsold. He should have had even better painting years ahead of him. He had already achieved much but what else might he have gone on to accomplish?

For more information on Percy Shakespeare please see the document attached below.

Access to the Percy Shakespeare Collection

There is now a permanent exhibition of Percy Shakespeare's work in Dudley Museum and Art Gallery. However the majority of the art collection is kept in store, except when being used for a specific exhibition. If you wish to see a particular picture, it is advisable to contact the Museum before your visit and the staff will be able to tell you whether the picture is on display or not. If the picture is not on display and you wish to view it, the staff will give you details about how to make an appointment.

View the Collections Online

Black Country History is a searchable website which allows users to find information about documents, maps, photographs, art works, objects and more held by archives and museums services within the Black Country. Dudley Museums Service are a partner involved in the website and consequently details of the objects held in our collections are available on the site.

Please use Black Country History to discover more about the objects and documents relating to Percy Shakespeare that are cared for by Dudley Museum & Art Gallery.