Normandie

Scott Houston McBee (born 1962)

Gouache and India ink on paper

2008

 

Height: 42 ½ inches (107.95 cm.)

Width: 117 ¼ inches (297.18 cm.)

 

Specifications

Built by Chantiers de l’Atlantique, St. Nazire, France, 1935

Length: 1,028 feet

Width: 117 feet

Service speed: 29 knots

Passengers: 848 first class, 670 tourist class, 454 third class

Le Havre-New York service

 

Normandie established itself as a legend on its maiden voyage by winning the coveted Blue Ribbon award for transatlantic speed.  It was the most luxurious liner ever built and its interior was a showcase of art deco design. Glass panels by Lalique, coromandel walls by Dunand, furniture by Franck and Ruhlmann and silver by Christofle all set the background for a sumptuous life on board that has never been equaled.  In design, fittings, cuisine and crew, Normandie was to represent the best of France. Celebrities such as Douglas Fairbanks, Marlene Dietrich, Ernest Hemingway, Mistinguette, Dali and Colette were all passengers aboard the ship.

During World War II, the boat was seized by U.S. authorities in December of 1941, and was renamed the U.S.S. Lafayette.  In 1942, while being converted to a troopship, the liner mysteriously caught fire and sank in the New YorkHarbor. She was salvaged at great expense, but restoration of the vessel was deemed too costly.

In creating each work, Scott McBee enlarges the original builder’s plan onto a piece of graphite paper. The outline of ship is thereafter transferred onto the work. He then completes the outline in India ink, which is both waterproof and fade-proof. McBee then applies three coats of gouache. In the same process as shipbuilding, he begins by painting the hull and working from the keel up. The ship’s name marks the end of the painting process. Each work takes approximately three weeks to complete.

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