John Byam Liston Shaw was the son of John Shaw and Sophia Alicia Byam Gunthorpe. In 1899 Byam Shaw married the artist Evelyn Eunice Pyke-Nott, later known as Evelyn CE Shaw (1870–1959). The couple had five children including the actor and theatre director Glen Byam Shaw and the art historian J. (Jim) Byam Shaw. The family are depicted in the artist's semi-autobiographical pastel painting My Wife, My Bairns and My Wee Dog John (1903). Life and work
Born in Madras, Byam Shaw's father John was the registrar of the High Court at Madras. The family returned to England in 1878 where they settled in Kensington, living at 103 Holland Row. Recognising early artistic promise, in 1887 Millais was shown Byam Shaw's work and he recommended the 1year old enter the St John's Wood Art Schools. It was here that he first met fellow artists Gerald Fenwick Metcalfe (also born in India), Rex Vicat Cole and his future wife Evelyn Pyke-Nott. From 1890, Byam Shaw studied at the Royal Academy Schools where he won the Armitage Prize in 1892 for his work The Judgement of Solomon.
Throughout his career Byam Shaw worked competently in a wide variety of media including oils, watercolour, pastels, pen and ink and also deployed techniques such as dyeing and gilding.
Later in his life, as his popularity as an artist waned, Byam Shaw turned to teaching for his living. He taught at the Women's Department of King's College London from 190 and founded the Byam Shaw and Vicat Cole School of Art in 1910 with Rex Vicat Cole, later renamed the Byam Shaw School of Art. Evelyn Shaw also had an active role in the new school, teaching the miniatures class, her area of expertise. Byam Shaw had had a long association with the artist and illustrator Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale and she also taught at his and Vicat Cole's new school.
At the outbreak of World War I Byam Shaw and Vicat Cole enlisted in the Artists' Rifles although Shaw would soon transfer to the Special Constabulary. Byam Shaw produced war cartoons that were published in many newspapers and also found work with memorial commissions. Not long after the war ended, Byam Shaw collapsed and died. His funeral was held at St Barnabas', Addison Road. Years before, he had designed two stunning yellow-hued stained glass windows for this church, depicting Saints Cecilia and Margaret and an ornate red, green and gilt monument to his life, in a 15th century style, still stands here. He was buried at Kensal Green Cemetery.