James Jebusa Shannon was from an Irish-American family. At the age of 16 he went to England, where he studied for three years at the South Kensington School under Sir Edward James Poynter, and while he was in London he won a gold medal. He first became known after his Portrait of Miss Horatia Slopford, shown at the Royal Academy in 1881. He had intended to return to America, but as a result of his rapid success he decided to stay in London. He received numerous commissions from a wide variety of sources. In 1886 he became a member of the New English Art Club and a member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours; he became an associate member of the Royal Academy in 1897 and a full member in 1909. He was knighted in 1922, the year before he died.
Shannon's first exhibition was at the Royal Academy in London in 1880, where he won a gold medal. He was noticed by Whistler, his fellow American, and this enabled him to exhibit at the Royal Society of British Artists and at the Société Internationale. He also participated in collective exhibitions in Paris such as the Exposition Universelle in 1889 and 1900, where he won a gold medal the first year and a silver medal the following year.
Museum and Gallery Holdings
Birmingham: Alderman Edward Lawley Parker
Bradford (Cartwright Hall AG): The Stairs
Cape Town: Forbidden Fruit
Cardiff: Green Vase
Liverpool: Mgr Nugent; Daydreaming
Liverpool (Walker AG): Princess Mary (1915)
London (Tate Collection): Young Girl with Flowers