The Shoesmith Society 

Kenneth D Shoesmith RI


Kenneth was born in Halifax in Yorkshire and grew up in Blackpool. The young Shoesmith was drawing ships from the time he could hold a pencil and examples of his earliest works have been preserved. Despite showing early artistic talent he decided on a career at sea and joined the training ship HMS Conway. Many of his sketches were published in the Conway termly magazine.


After Conway he joined the Royal Mail Line but continued his enthusiasm for drawing and painting. During his early career as a ship’s officer he continued to paint the ships on which he served as well as those he observed around him. Finding his duties as Chief Officer left him insufficient time for his passion for painting, he resigned in 1918. For a while he worked for the publishers Thomas Forman but he soon took up his second career as a full-time freelance painter until his death in 1939 aged just 48.


He was prolific artist and his works included several large pieces for the old Queen Mary, including an altarpiece, The Madonna of the Atlantic for the Cabin Class Drawing Room (see left). He also produced the screen of harbour scenes that covered the altarpiece when the room was not in use as a chapel. These are still on display in the Queen Mary at Long Beach, California. He was well known for his marine posters advertising pre-war Trans-Atlantic Liners. His style of representing ocean liners became instantly recognisable and is still copied to this day.


Upon the death of his widow in 1974 the entire contents of his studio were bequeathed to The Ulster Museum, Belfast where a major collection of his works is now held but regrettably is not on display.

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