“Chariots”, a six panel, 26 foot long by 8.5 foot tall multi-media painting of an undersea chariot battle between mythical beasts, horses and Etruscan warriors by the late Genoa-based artist, Emanuele Luzzati, has been sold. The ensemble was purchased from the traders at Alang, India by MaritimeMatters co-editor Peter Knego in 2004 when he made his first visit to the shipbreaking beach and offered for sale on his MidShipCentury website.
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Emanuele Luzzati was in the cabal of Italian artists commissioned by the troika of designers (Gio Ponti, Gustavo Pulitzer-Finale and Nino Zoncada) who fashioned the modernist interiors of Italy’s most important post war liners.
Luzzati’s first sea-going commission was for the vastly rebuilt CONTE BIANCAMANO in 1949 and his work would grace dozens of subsequent liners and cruise ships, including ANDREA DORIA, LEONARDO DA VINCI, EUGENIO C, AUSONIA, FEDERICO C, STELLA MARIS II, STELLA OCEANIS and the last ship designed by Nino Zoncada (and Luzzati’s last, as well), the beautiful STELLA SOLARIS (2).
The panel was the centerpiece of a virtual floating museum of artwork by Luzzati and Roncole-based Enrico Paulucci found on board Sun Line’s STELLA SOLARIS, which wound up at Alang in 2004.
“With ten important liners and cruise ships on that beach at that time, I had to go to Alang and bid them farewell. It was such a sad but historic time and that first visit would change my life. ‘Chariots’ was sitting in the dirt under one of the traders’ awnings and I had no idea who had painted it but knew it was an important piece of art and had to be saved. I got into a bidding war with a cinema owner from a remote part of India before my agent let me know it was finally mine,” Knego recently recalled.
He added, “Later, I photographed the signature and did a search for ‘Luzzati’, then learned what I had acquired. Paolo Piccione, the great Italian ship historian, arranged for me to visit Luzzati at his museum in Genoa and I was able to show that kind, brilliant man photos of the things I had saved. He seemed quite happy and animated, although I don’t speak Italian and Paolo had to translate our conversation.”
It was the last interview Luzzati did before his passing in early 2007.
“It was such an honor having this beautiful piece of art in my possession for the past seven years. I think it is safe to say it is one of Emanuele Luzzati’s most spectacular works and I’m proud to have played a part in its transition from the high seas to its new home.”
“The sale of ‘Chariots’ will help pay off the debt I have acquired with my MidShipCentury venture. My accountant will finally stop shaking his head at me,” Knego joked, adding, “In the meantime, I still have quite a catalog of Luzzati and other artworks from the SOLARIS and other ships (EUGENIO C, VICTORIA, STELLA OCEANIS, STELLA MARIS II) in my inventory and have kept a number of his panels for my private collection, although many of them are too large for me to display in my home. I hope one day to be able to take these objects on tour — I don’t think the world realizes yet just how beautiful the art and fittings of the MidCentury liners and cruise ships were. Edwardian and Art Deco, yes, but MidCentury Modern — we’re not quite there with the majority of the shipping enthusiasts while designers rarely think ‘ship’ when they think Modern. These things were commissioned and designed specifically for each vessel whereas today, the artworks are largely ‘shopped’ from galleries by the designers. It’s not the same.”
The panel was sold for an undisclosed amount to a “buyer in the Caribbean” on Knego’s behalf by Los Angeles-based Off The Wall Antiques, a leading vendor of fine art and one-time sponsor of the annual Modernism Show held at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. In 2008, “Chariots” was featured on the cover of the program and was the centerpiece of the show, going on display with several other works of art and fittings from Knego’s MidShipCentury catalog, including glass panels from the EMPRESS OF CANADA, a Luzzati ceramic ensemble and a metal relief from Incres Line’s VICTORIA.
MARTIN COX - Founder and publisher of MaritimeMatters, inspired by maritime culture and technology growing up in the port of Southampton. He works as a photographer in Los Angeles, and his works has been exhibited in LA, San Francisco, New York, London and Iceland.Martin is the co-writer of the book “Hollywood to Honolulu; the story of the Los Angeles Steamship Company” published by the Steam Ship Historical Society of America. The Los Angeles Maritime Museum has commissioned artworks and collected his photographs.
MARTIN COX - Founder and publisher of MaritimeMatters, inspired by maritime culture and technology growing up in the port of Southampton. He works as a photographer in Los Angeles, and his works has been exhibited in LA, San Francisco, New York, London and Iceland. Martin is the co-writer of the book “Hollywood to Honolulu; the story of the Los Angeles Steamship Company” published by the Steam Ship Historical Society of America. The Los Angeles Maritime Museum has commissioned artworks and collected his photographs.