Laurence Dunn (1910 – 2006)

SS Hesleyside


Pen, ink, and watercolour

6 x 16 cm

Provenance: an album of works by the artist.

The Hesleyside was a steamer built in 1912. In 1933, as Dunn notes in pen, it was bought by a Greek company and rechristened the SS Kymas. She was torpedoed by a U-boat in 1940.

Laurence Dunn was a well-known British marine artist and writer known for his depictions of ships. He grew up in Devon, where he practised drawing passing ships, and went on to study at the Central School of Art. He then worked for shipbuilding firm John I. Thornycroft & Company Limited, where he contributed to the design of the Royal Yacht. During the Second World War, Dunn worked in naval intelligence. In the early 1960s, he created many line drawings of Atlantic ocean liners.

Upon his death in 2006, the World Ship Society published the following obituary:

DUNN, Laurence. [December 15 2006 — Lloyds List] Many readers will be saddened by the death of well-known marine artist and writer Laurence Dunn in his 97th year. A man of encyclopaedic knowledge, he began his lifelong love of ships in Brixham, where he meticulously recorded passing traffic with the exquisitely accurate line drawings which later became something of a trademark. While studying at London’s Central School of Art his work was noticed by the Southern Railway, which commissioned profiles of its fleet, and this in turn led to work for Orient Line, where he also designed the well-known corn-coloured hull, and later Thorneycroft, where he helped with shaping draft plans for a new royal yacht. During the second world was he worked for naval intelligence at the Admiralty, where his technique did much to improve recognition standards, and greatly expanded his shipping clientele, becoming personally known to many chairmen. As well as the shipping press he worked for mainstream publications such as Everybody’s, Sphere and the upmarket comic Eagle. Through his many contacts he enjoyed going to sea in a great variety of ships from aircraft carriers to colliers. Laurence wrote several books, starting with ship recognition titles which introduced new standards of layout, but his best known work was probably Passenger Liners, which was widely taken up by the travel trade. His love of Greece, where he was an early publicist of island cruising, let to involvement in reshaping various passenger liners beginning with Greek Line’s OLYMPIA. In later life he designed several sets of shipping stamps for the Crown Agents, produced photographic volumes on Thames and Mediterranean shipping and still found time to enjoy the passing Thames traffic. Our sympathies go to his wife Jennifer, who provided succour to the many ship lovers who beat a path to the welcoming door of their Gravesend home.

Condition: very good.

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