The Chris Butler Art Gallery


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98-048 "S.S. Olympic - Twilight Crossing"
1998, Acrylic on Illustration Board

This image was a joy to paint, because it was a commission for a special person. After the original painting for Queen Mary: Into the Sea (also displayed in this gallery) was sold to a family friend of mine, I was contacted by one of her neighbors. This gentleman had actually sailed on one of the great liners, and in very interesting circumstances. He wondered if I could re-create his experience; after he finished describing those experiences, there was no way I could not.

His father had been a British seaman who ended up starting a business in New York, leaving my client to be raised by an Irish nanny who he grew to regard as his mother. One day, the father at long last sent for the boy, and in 1934 a very frightened and heartsick young man was shepherded onto the S.S. Olympic and torn from his adoptive mother, and his mother country. Olympic was Titanic's older sister ship, and getting to be a spinster by 1934 - note the occasional rust streaks. The White Star Line was making plans to withdraw her from service, and thus my client was one of the last people to know her comforts.

He recalls a kindly professor (Dr. Friend, believe it or not) who comforted the boy as he traveled alone - but most of the time the boy walked the stern decks, looking back towards a life he wished desperately to return to. You can see him in the painting, standing in a dark coat and cap at the stern, as Olympic makes a crossing in her twilight years.

Chris Butler

Copyright 1994-2003 by Chris Butler
More of Chris Butler's art can be viewed at Novagraphics Space Art.