Shields responded intensely to female beauty. In 1874, at the age of forty, he married a very pretty but totally uneducated girl of sixteen, and proceeded, in true Victorian fashion, to try and turn her into a young lady. He adopted her younger sister, Jessie, who was to marry the Rev. B. Scott in 1893 and whose early death was 'a terrible grief' to Shields.
A head study by Shields was sold Christie's, London, 28 November 2000, lot 65, £ 16,450.