cinemafan2 (cinemafan2) wrote,

Kenneth D. Shoesmith, RI, 1890 - 1939.

Kenneth was born in Halifax in Yorkshire but grew up in Blackpool, England. Despite showing early artistic talent he decided on a career at sea and became a Conway cadet. (HMS Conway was a sailing ship docked near Liverpool and used as a mercantile training institute.)  After completing his studies at Conway he joined the Royal Mail Line but continued his enthusiasm for drawing and painting. He was mainly self-taught but did take a correspondence course early in his career.

Like many artists his style changed considerably during his life. In his early years he had a natural flowing style but he developed a more 'Art Deco' style later. At some point he left the sea and between the wars he worked for the publishers Thomas Forman. They produced all Cunard's postcards and Shoesmith created many very well known images for them. He also designed posters for a number of other companies including the Royal Mail Line. 

An evocative Cunard poster of a four stacker headed to America by Kenneth Shoesmith.  This poster is in the collection of the Peabody Essex Museum in Massachusetts.


A prolific artist, his works included several large pieces for the RMS Queen Mary, including "the Flower Market" found in the former cabin (first) class drawing room and two altar reredos and several other pieces. 

Shoesmith's "Flower Market"  (left) provided by Queen Mary Photography and  (right) Winston Churchill sitting in front of Shoesmith's painting during a press conference in the early 1950's.  

                                         A portion of this painting used on a menu cover.

                                     A view looking aft of the Drawing Room circa 1962. 

Kenneth Shoesmith painted "the Madonna of the Atlantic" as a reredos over the altar used for Roman Catholic Mass in the cabin (or first) class Drawing Room. (See him below with it at left.) It was hung on the opposite wall from the painting of "the Flower Market" and was covered by a folding screen when the altar was not in use.  

Kenneth Shoesmith working on the Madonna of the Atlantic.  And the finished painting with a modesty cloth added. Photograph supplied by Queen Mary Photography.


                              The screen painted by Kenneth Shoesmith covering the altar in the Drawing Room.

                                          A photo of the Kenneth Shoesmith painted screen of a harbor scene.

              The screen painted by Kenneth Shoesmith as exhibited in the museum area circa 2000.  

While the two altar pieces are on display on the Queen Mary, unfortunately this major and beautiful work by Kenneth Shoesmith of a harbor scene is no longer on display either in the Drawing Room or in the museum.   


The Drawing Room today....   
 Shoesmith "Flower Market" as it appears today in the Drawing Room now used as the Queen Mary Shop.

                    The opposite view today.  The altar alcove is now stripped of its art and used to display tee-shirts.

The possibilities for restoration and sensitive adaptive reuse  are only  limited by the  operational strategy in place.  Ernesto Chacon, operator of the Queen Mary Shop standing by the copy of the clock that he and his wife Martha commissioned for their shop that is located in the former Drawing Room.  An exact copy of the original, this  clock was built by Rob Jacobs, master modeler and craftsman.


Shoesmith painted "the Madonna of the Tall Ships" as the reredos for the tourist (or second) class library.
                                                                             "The Madonna of the Tall Ships"

He also painted two octagonal paintings of English literary figures for the adjoining writing room.  At least one of these two octagonal paintings were destroyed and replaced with a copy by Cunard after World War II. 

                               The writing room circa 1949 with an octagonal painting by Shoesmith.

Richard Hakluyt  (c. 1552 or 1553 – November 23, 1616) was an English writer primarily noted for his works on the British settlement of North America.

 "Samuel Pepys at the Royal Dockyard, Deptford" , Samuel Pepys, the 17th century diarists, as painted by Kenneth Shoesmith.

A wall in the former tourist (second) class writing room, (a passageway today), where one of the octagonal paintings has been removed.  The octagonal paintings were relocated in a portion of what once was the Long Gallery.



The historic literary figure paintings Shoesmith did for the Queen Mary are similar to larger historical composition he did that were sold at Sotheby's 1998.  (See above.) These pictures depicts the main events of the Spanish Armada were commissioned by the First Lord Vestry for his dining room at Kingswood (in Dulwich). Later they were presented to Radley College where they hung until 1976.
Shoesmith was famous for his marine posters advertising pre-war Trans-Atlantic Liners. His style of representing ocean liners became instantly recognisable and is still copied to this day.  His work is hghly collectible.

A collection of over 300 items of his work is in the Ulster Museum, Belfast, Northern Ireland. An internet search using his name generates many links to dealers selling posters of his works.

See also:

"Kenneth Shoesmith and Royal Mail",  by Dave Reynolds, ISBN 0 620 19485 5,  published in 1982 (2nd edition 1992) by Bygone Ships,Trains & Planes, PO Box 844, Pretoria, South Africa.

"The Art of the Queen Mary", by Douglas M. Hinkley, ISBN 0-9630584 2-8, published in 1994 by the Hippodrone Galleries of FHP Healthcare, Long Beach, California. for background on the HMS Conway. for the biographies of notable old Conways.  The biography of Kenneth Shoesmith used here is derived from this site.  for K. D. Shoesmith prints from a Royal Mail Lines Calendar. for a discussion of the retail and restoration possibilities on Prom Deck Square, the Main Hall of the Queen Mary. for a discussion of the cabin (first) class drawing room on the Queen Mary. for a discussion of the tourist (second) class library and writing room on the Queen Mary.

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