A painting commissioned for the 1911-built SS France is set to go to auction, according to a press release.
The large-scale painting is the work of the French painter, illustrator, engraver and sculptor, Gaston La Touche (1854-1913), who was asked to create a large panel work to go above the staircase in the grand two-tiered First-Class dining room.
After its time on the ship, the painting was transferred to the private collection of Henri Cangardel, chairman of the Compagnie Transatlantique French Line and then entered another private collection in London. Its whereabouts were then unknown until it emerged for exhibition in 2015 after 25 years.
Titled L’Arrive de la Princesse, the painting shows a woman who, having stepped out of her carriage, is being fawned upon by her courtiers, as they escort her to a waiting barge. The oil painting on a gold ground is signed and inscribed and carries an estimate of £8,000-£12,000 (lot 213). It will be offered in an auction of Old Master Paintings, British and European Art at Dreweatts on February 21, 2024.
Head of Dreweatts Old Master, British and European Art department, Brandon Lindberg, said: “We are delighted to be offering this belle epoque fantasy in our sale. For twenty-five years its whereabouts were unknown until it was triumphantly exhibited in 2015”.
The SS France was built in St. Nazaire, France and was the most luxurious ship of its day. It accommodated 517 First Class passengers from a total of 1623 onboard. An order was placed for the ship in 1908 and it was sea-ready for the Transatlantic route in April 1912 (a week after the sinking of RMS Titanic).
During World War II, the SS France served as a hospital ship and it remained on the sea for over two decades.