R.M.S. Aquitania leaving New York signed 'Odin Rosenvinge' (lower left) oil on canvas 101.6 x 152.4cm (40 x 60in).
LITERATURE : Robert Wall, Ocean Liner Postcards in Marine Art, 1900-1945, (Woodbridge, 1998), p 43, illustrated.
Odin Rosenvinge was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1880 of Danish descent. After leaving school, he joined a Leeds commercial art and printing firm where he started to paint marine subjects. When he was thirty-two, he moved to Liverpool and joined the firm of Turner and Dunett who had all the major shipping companies as clients. He served in the Middle East during World War I. In the 1930's, his employers went into liquidation and he went freelance, becoming one of the most celebrated poster and postcard artists.
Aquitania was a Cunard Line ocean liner built by John Brown & Company in Clydebank, Scotland and was launched on 21 April 1913. Her keel was laid in the same plot that had famously built Lusitania and that would later be used for building Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth & Queen Elizabeth II. Aquitania was the third in Cunard's 'grand trio' of liners, preceded by the R.M.S. Mauretania and R.M.S. Lusitania. Widely considered one of the most attractive ships of her time, Aquitania earned the nickname 'Ship Beautiful'. In her 36 years of service, Aquitania survived military duty in both world wars and returned to passenger service after each conflict. Aquitania's record for the longest service career of any 20th century express liner stood until 2004, when the Queen Elizabeth 2 (ultimate career service of 40 years) became the longest-serving liner. In the wake of the Titanic disaster, Aquitania was one of the first ships to carry enough lifeboats for all passengers and crew. Her public spaces were designed by the British architect Arthur Joseph Davis of the interior decorating firm Mewès and Davis, which had overseen the construction and decoration of the Ritz Hotel in London. The Aquitania set sail on her maiden voyage under the command of Captain William Turner on 30th May 1914. This event, however, was overshadowed by the sinking of the R.M.S. Empress of Ireland off Quebec the previous day with over a thousand drowned. The following month the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated and the world was plunged into World War I, interrupting Aquitania's civilian career. After only three round trips she was taken over for military use. Her service during World War I included being used as a hospital ship in the Dardanelles campaign and as a troopship, conveying North American troops to Britain. Many of these departures were from the port of Halifax, Nova Scotia where her spectacular dazzle paint scheme was captured by artists and photographers, notably Antonio Jacobsen. On one occasion she transported over 8,000 men.
During the 1920s Aquitania sailed with the Cunarders Mauretania and Berengaria in a trio known as 'The Big Three', becoming one of the most popular liners on the North Atlantic route. As the 1920s became one of the most profitable ages in ocean travel history, Aquitania became the favorite of royalty, other aristocracy, politicians and royalty. This came to an end with the devastating consequences following the stock market crash of 1929. On 10 April 1935 Aquitania went hard aground near Thorne Knoll on the River Test outside Southampton, but with the aid of ten tugboats and the next high tide she was freed.
As time went on Aquitania grew older and was scheduled to be replaced by R.M.S. Queen Elizabeth in 1940, but this plan was shelved with the outbreak of World War II. In 1940 Aquitania was in New York awaiting further orders and for a time she was tied up alongside R.M.S. Queen Mary, the Queen Elizabeth, and the Normandie which must have been a very impressive sight. Shortly after, Aquitania sailed for Sydney, Australia, to become a troop transport, just as she had in World War I. Later in 1940 Aquitania, Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth, S.S. Ile de France and other ships sailed in a magnificent convoy out of Sydney, Australia.
In November 1941 Aquitania was in Singapore (then still a British colony) now repainted in battleship grey, set sail to take part indirectly in the loss of the Australian cruiser H.M.A.S. Sydney. The Sydney had engaged in battle with the German auxiliary cruiser Kormoran. There has been much unsubstantiated speculation that Kormoran was expecting Aquitania, after spies in Singapore had notified Kormoran's crew of the liner's sailing, and planned to ambush her in the Indian Ocean west of Perth but instead encountered Sydney on 19 November. Both ships were lost after a fierce battle and a short time later Aquitania arrived on the scene to pick up survivors of the German ship, the captain going against orders not to stop for survivors of sinkings. There were no survivors from the Sydney. In her eight years of further military work, Aquitania sailed more than 500,000 miles, and carried nearly 400,000 soldiers, to and from places as far afield as New Zealand, Australia, the South Pacific, Greece and the Indian Ocean. After completing troopship service, she was handed back to Cunard in 1946, who used her to transport war brides and their children to Canada under charter from the Canadian government. This final service created a special fondness for Aquitania in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the port of disembarkation for these immigration voyages. On completion of this task in December 1949, she was taken out of service and scrapped in 1950 in Scotland, thus ending an illustrious career which included steaming 3 million miles in 450 voyages. Aquitania carried 1.2 million passengers over a career that spanned nearly 36 years. Her record for the longest-serving career of any 20th century express liner stood until 2004, when the Queen Elizabeth 2 (ultimate career service of 40 years) broke it.
Aquitania was the only major liner to serve in both World Wars, and returned to passenger service after each conflict. When she was scrapped, she was the last surviving four funnelled passenger ship.