I know that one of the Titanic's stewards drew a picture of the ship going down as she was firing rockets, and then theres Thayer Jr.'s "drawings" (sic), but how many other survivors drew what they saw that night?
He didn't draw what he saw that night, but Harold Lowe did a rather accomplished sketch or two of the Titanic. His father was a professional artist who worked predominantly in oils, and whether through nature or nuture Lowe inherited some of his ability.
That's right, Bill - they're still in the possession of the family. They've given me decent copies, and I've discussed with them the possibility of using them in the bio. The problem is that I might have too many images - I've already been warned that my proposed list of illustrations is probably too ambitious, which is a pity as there is a wealth of unpublished photos and images connected with Lowe.
And the good news is, Christine, Lowe's descendants have shared more of Lowe's artwork since I showed you some last year
Did you see the more polished sketch he did of the Titanic? Not the cartoon.
Bill, perhaps the owners of these wonderful images might consider giving permission to ET to have them on the site. Mike, it's entirely up to the family of course, but I would be delighted if they would consider reprinting some of their collection. The albums of photos of HGL's wartime experiences, not to mention the albums of his life aboard peacetime ships, are a wonderful window into the era. They might not be quite of the same artistry as Father Browne's work, but they're not too dissimilar. The sheer scope of life aboard ship that formed the subject matter he covered makes them a valuable documentation of the era. Of course, the Titanic connection resonates hauntingly in some of the images - a distant shot of the Olympic at sea, or photographs of the Statue of Liberty, are particularly poignant when one considers the history of the photographer.
Well, Lowe may not have been an artist in the class of some of the professionals, but I suspect his work more then makes up for that in candor. I've noticed a tendency among some artists to make an especial effort to make some sort of "profound" statement. Yet the ordinary can make quite a statement of it's own. I for one would love to se Lowe's work.
He had certain strengths and weakness, Michael - for some reason, funnels seemed to have posed difficulties for him, which seems rather unusual given his skill in handling the superstructure. In comparison to the rest of the sketch they seem rather flat - later efforts are more successful. However, there is some rather nice work on shading, and a certain precision and detail (although a friend, looking at one, grumbled at some of his portal arrangements). He also handled the sea effects remarkably well, particularly along the bow wave - I wondered if perhaps he'd had some pointers from his father, who did very accomplished sea scapes. He seems to have worked from photographs. There are some odd indiosyncracies - for example, he added smoke from the fourth funnel. In many ways, we've probably had more of a chance to familiarise ourselves with how the Titanic looked than those who sailed on her - James Moody, for example, noted that a postcard of the Titanic was a good likeness, but any researcher looking at it would realise it's actually an image of the Olympic. Possibly he didn't notice, or he may have decided it wasn't worth getting into technicalities with laypeople.
Like many seamen and sailors, Lowe was extremely adept at other forms of traditional work such as carving and modelmaking. As ever, it was a question of scrounging bits and pieces of material to make things - his grandson used the phrase 'fell off the back of a ship.' He continued this into his retirement, and there are some rather striking word-portraits of him at work in his shed. Murdoch was also talented with model making and a friend of mine has an exquisitely detailed sketch of ship's rigging that he did. There are photos of Lightoller engaging in ship's carpentry. I found out fairly recently that James Moody was clever with his hands as well - his family showed me a small box for stamp papers that he had crafted as a child, and it's a very neat and rather beautiful bit of craftsmanship.
If we get a chance to meet up I'd be happy to show you some of the photos of the above works that I have - I've got tentative plans to head Stateside early next year. If not, I may be able to email an image or two to you when I finally get around to scanning or downloading material from my laptop. They're both interesting and rather accomplished works, especially given that they were not done by professional artists but rather by talented amateurs.
>>for example, he added smoke from the fourth funnel.<<
IIRC, so did a lot of commercial artists at the time, in addition to making nearby small craft looking even smaller then they really were in relation to the ship they were hawking to the public. Lowe's got some good company in that regard. I won't shortsell talanted amatures as what they may lack in skill, they often make up for in honesty and heart!
Good to hear you've got plans to come stateside. I don't know if we'll be able to connect, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. You might want to check out Charleston if you haven't already. The place is loaded with history.
Would love to do so, Michael - I have friends with family not too far from there, and they tend to visit down there often.
Lowe was certainly very meticulous in his work - you can see the tremendous pains he's expended on the detail. And then there's the cartoon of a WSL ship he drew that bears a very interesting resemblance to a certain notorious and short-lived liner...