Caronia (1949) Writing Room Architectural Mirror PanelItem Number: 75843 $19,995.00
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The writing room on the RMS Caronia was an excellent example of Cunard Art Deco and British ocean-liner decor. It also in many ways straddled the line with a softer look that anticipated the 1950s. This stunning mirrored panel is one of a pair that formed the main decorative architectural feature of the space.
The room, including this panel, was veneered in silver betula, a type of birch with an exquisite grain. It was also fitted up with diagonally quilted leather in a grey green. Given their importance in this room, these panels are mentioned in Cunard’s publicity book about Caronia that was released in late 1948. In a typical understated fashion, these amazing mirrored panels are simply described: “Screens are set up on the inboard side, and cast in aluminum of matte silver and obscured glass.” In reality, they are quite amazing with a solid bronze sculpted pedestal to support the aluminum-mirrored frame. Each panel is impressive to say the least since even my non-liner friends come in and marvel over them which is exactly what they were meant to do!
The story about how this panel survived Caronia’s demise is interesting. A wealthy New York couple bought a large amount of the ship’s fittings and furniture to outfit their 5th Ave apartment. They purchased, among other things, both the mirrored panels from the writing room, a sofa, three chairs, several light fixtures, occasional tables, to name just a few pieces. The effect was so impressive that the apartment was featured in an issue of Architectural Digest in 1974. Curiously, at some point the owners decided to remove the decorative hand rails from the wall panels and use them in their bathroom as towel bars! When I bought the panels, the handrails were missing although the seller said that he had them. After a year of having him search the warehouse of the estate-clearance company, the seller rediscovered them, and they are now happily reunited with the panels.
I purchased nearly everything Caronia from the estate. As Caronia is my favorite ship, I will be keeping one of these panels so only one will ever come onto the market. I have had the panel completely restored with the exception of some scratches to the metal which could be restored. It measures about 101″ x 46″ x 6″. All original carpentry markings have been retained on the back.