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Art on the high seas.

Byline: By Stephen Guy from Merseyside Maritime Museum

SHIPS often feature beautiful artworks from the majestic figureheads of the sailing era to stunning displays on great liners.

A painting by Norman Wilkinson is perhaps the most famous artwork on a ship.

The Approach to Plymouth Harbour hung above the mantelpiece in the First Class smoking room on the Titanic.

It has been represented in many films and TV documentaries about the disaster. Thomas Andrews, the Titanic's designer and a hero of the tragedy, was last seen staring fixedly at the painting, awaiting his fate.

Shortly afterwards Titanic plunged beneath the waves, taking Andrews and 1,500 people to their deaths. His body was never recovered.

Leading marine painter Wilkinson (1878 - 1971) also painted The Approach to the New World on Titanic's sister ship Olympic which plied the seas successfully for many years before being scrapped.

At Merseyside Maritime Museum there are a number of art works which once graced famous ships.

There is one of a pair of glass panels removed from the officers' wardroom on the doomed Lusitania, sunk by a German U-boat submarine in 1915.

The lovely oval panel has a flower design and subtle tones and shades. It was removed by a joiner in Liverpool because the other one of the pair was cracked.

There are six stunning decorative glass panels from the Mauretania II, built at Cammell Laird in 1939. They were rescued when the ship was broken up in 1965.

The panels were originally displayed in the Cabin Class (1st Class) restaurant. Each image - based on the signs of the zodiac - represents a specific date in the history of Mauretania II.

The lines in each picture forma constellation or star picture in the form of a mythical creature - Cancer the crab, Leo the lion (twice), Virgo the maiden, Sagittarius the archer and Pegasus the horse.

There is a large, intricately-painted mural from a lesser-known ship, the Blue Funnel line's Ixion.

John Mansbridge painted the panel in 1951 for the officers' lounge. When Liverpool Blue Funnel founders Alfred and Philip Holt began naming their ships, they chose names taken from the Odyssey and Iliad.

Homer's heroes provided inspiration for their own epic adventures as ship owners - their ships were among the most advanced of their time.

Other mythical figures are depicted in the mural including Mrs Lawrence Holt,who launched Ixion, as Britannia with her husband as Neptune.

The mural features Ixion with her distinctive blue funnel and naked nymphs swathed in seaweed.

The Cunard Line's Queen Mary 2 (2004) has many exquisite artworks including massive polished bronze reliefs, murals and tapestries.

There is an art gallery featuring auctions of works by top artists.

Merseyside Maritime Museumis open seven days a week, admission free.

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MAJESTIC: one of a series of glass panels rescued from the Mauretania II when it was broken up in 1965
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Feb 23, 2008
Words:480
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