This oil on canvas painting has graced the wall of the first class library on promenade deck.
Depicted is the history of navigation from ancient times to most recent sailing vessels. The color of the wall exactly matched the background of the mural, giving the ships the appearance of wooden half- models protruding from the walls.
whereabouts of artwork: unknown post 1964. The library was moved to a different part of promenade deck during the Australis conversion.
Dolphin relief aboard Australis.
"Signs of the Zodiac"by Austin Purves Jr.
Incorporated into the rounded corners of staircase walls of America where sculptors of the signs of the zodiac made of aluminium by Austin Purves Jr.
Next to the sculptors there was a small symbolic depiction of each zodiac sign. Purves always placed the two opposing signs of the zodiac circle together in one staircase corner, separated by a symbolic representation of the sun and the surrounding earth in the corresponding position of the ecliptic. In the progression up the steps, it completes its rotation from corner to corner.
Overall, Austin Purves work in the stairwells on board the America consisted of 213 pieces.
whereabouts of the artwork:
Stayed aboard the ship until 1994. Removed from the wreck, current location and existance unknown.
In 1946 Austin Purves was commissioned to recreate the zodiac scultures aboard when it was believed that the original ones were missing after the America's military service until rediscovered in a remote area of the ship during the reconversion work. At that time Austin Purves had already finished some new scultures which now became redundant. Two of these never-used replacement sculptures together with a lot of sketches and correspondence are today preserved by the Litchfield Historical Society in East Litchfield, Connecticut:
right: Griffith Raily Coale drawing the mural in 1940.
left: detail of sailing vessel evolution.
left: Sagittarius (Centaur Archer) and Gemini (Twins)
right: Pisces (Fishes)
Wall decorations of suites and staterooms by Constance L. Smith.
Many different subjects were used by Constance L. Smith for the decorative treatment of the staterooms and suites aboard. The most distinctive work aboard was probably the wall design of the so-called "Duck Suite" located on upper deck. The sitting room of this suite looked like a panoramic view over a lake in pristine wilderness. Ducks and reeds are surrounded by a golden shimmering backdrop, looking like a sunset. This effect was created by painting on a thin metal leaf mounted on canvas.
Another sitting room suite she has decorated with a mural of large white clematis blossoms and vines on a beige ground, to create an outdoor atmosphere. She also has done 38 canvas panels of large wire baskets filled with plants and flowers in several staterooms. Many additional water color images decorate several bedrooms in various cabins.
The Duck Suite was later copied on the SS United States.
whereabouts of the artworks: The Duck Suite was replaced by several smaller cabins during the Australis conversion in early 1965. Other wall decorations survived until 1994. No information on currently surviving paintings.
Wall mural of the "Duck Suite" sitting room aboard America.
Detail view: Duck in Duck Suite.
A 5.5 meter (18 feet) wide and 2 meters (6 feet) high relief of several dolphins which jump out of the waves below a circular mirror adorned the swimming pool on C Deck. Next to the dolphins, starfish and twining seagrass can be seen. This gilded relief also had five fountains of water which were formed by curling waves and which filled the pool with fresh water.
whereabouts of artwork: damaged in 1988 when the lower decks of Alferdoss were flooded by oil stained water. Stayed aboard the ship until 1994. Most probably not saved from the wreck, as the C- Deck of the stern part of the split hull was partially flooded.
About the artist: Austin M. Purves, Jr. (1900 - 1977) was a renowned american sculptor, muralist and educator.
Next to his commission aboard the SS America, he also created bas relief sculptors for the SS United States of similar style.
Some of Austin Purves most noted works include wood paintings for the Folger Shakespeare Memorial Library in Washington, DC., murals for the Temple of Religion of the 1939 World's Fair in New York, a giant wall mosaic map for the Boston Federal Reserve Bank Building and mosaic wall murals for the Rhone American Cemetery and Memorial near Draguignan, France.
Form 1952 to 1953 he acted as President of the National Society of Mural Painters.