Kershaw born in Standish, Lancashire England in April in 1819. At the age of twelve he was apprenticed to Mr. John Platt of Bolton who was paid the sum of Twenty Three Pounds by Kershaw’s father in order that his son could be instructed in the craft of house painting. He worked ten hours a day and six days a week. It was not unusual for the lad to work three or fours extra for no additional remuneration. He completed his apprenticeship at the age of twenty one and was greatly appreciated as an extremely competent signwriter, grainer and marbler.
At this time he had to make a decision on his future direction. He considered the study of fine arts but finally chose to dedicate his time to what was considered the humbler craft of graining and marbling.
He achieved international fame, winning a number of the most prestigious awards at the major exhibitions of the age; The Great Exhibition, London, 1851 - a first prize medal; Exposition Universelle, Paris, 1855 - a first class medal; London Exhibition, 1862 - first prize.
His work was so good that it was often considered to be indiscernible from the original. He undertook work in many large, houses, mansions and stately homes throughout England and Wales and once declined an offer from the Russian Ambassador to imitate marbles on the interior of the Imperial Palace in St Petersburg. In 1858 he produced one of his important works in the Emperor’s Room in Buckingham Palace where all the pillars were done in imitation marble.
The art of marbling and graining reached its apogee in Britain between 1845 and 1870, and during this period the acknowledged master was Thomas Kershaw.