Kings of the sea

BBC History Magazine - - Out & About -

Ocean Lin­ers: Speed and Style

V& A, Lon­don Un­til 17 June 020 7942 2000­ers

The V&A is trav­el­ling back to the golden age of ocean travel this month, with a new ex­hi­bi­tion ex­plor­ing life at sea from the mid-19th to the late 20th cen­tury.

The ex­hi­bi­tion be­gins with Brunel’s fa­mous steamship of 1859, the Great East­ern – at its time the largest ship the world had ever seen. Other ves­sels un­der the spot­light in­clude the Ger­man pas­sen­ger liner Kron­prinz Wil­helm, which launched in 1901; Ti­tanic and its sis­ter ship Olympic; the float­ing art deco palaces of Queen Mary and Nor­mandie; and the stream­lined modernism of SS United States and QE2.

More than 250 ob­jects are on show, shed­ding light on all as­pects of ocean travel – from the cul­tural im­pact of the ocean liner on an in­ter­na­tional scale, to the de­signs of th­ese mag­nif­i­cent ships, in­clud­ing ground-break­ing en­gi­neer­ing, ar­chi­tec­ture and in­te­ri­ors, as well as fash­ion and life­styles on board.

Some of the items fea­tured in the ex­hi­bi­tion are on show in the UK for the very first time, in­clud­ing a panel frag­ment fromTi­tanic’s first-class lounge. Other no­table ex­hibits in­clude the Duke of Wind­sor’s sump­tu­ous 1940s Go­yard lug­gage; the Chris­tian Dior suit worn by Mar­lene Di­et­rich as she ar­rived in New York aboard the Queen Mary in 1950; and works by artists such as Stan­ley Spencer, Al­bert Gleizes, Charles De­muth and Eileen Gray.

A colour litho­graph poster for Cana­dian Pa­cific Rail­ways fea­tur­ing the ocean liner Em­press of Bri­tain

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