POSTER OF THE MONTH
Canadian Pacific to Canada and USA c.1933
Kenneth Denton Shoesmith
40” x 25”
As shown in this stunning vintage poster design, the Canadian Pacific star of the fleet, namely, Empress of Britain, would be thrillingly at home in a world of dazzling and challenging contrasts. Here we have a dove-white structure amidst the relentless darkness of the night, its knife-sharp edges maintaining fertile creativity against the amorphous chaos of the sky and sea. Happily sheltered within that haven are many lucky travellers anticipating an exciting destination. Their massive and chic conveyance is serviced by unlovely little tugboats. The Canadian Pacific red and white checkered flags abounding here somewhat upstage the Union Jack tucked away at the back of the craft.
Kenneth Shoesmith (1890-1939), the great British graphic designer who brings off this lovely dream(in tandem with the soaring lines of the original structure) has capitalized on the golden funnels and other equipment on deck to suggest a sunset arrival, just ahead of a nasty rainstorm. (However, these funnels were apparently illuminated to serve as a beacon.) I love the casual, workaday body language of the foreground tug’s crew, contrasting with the stylish clientele, perhaps looking forward to a night on the town at some exciting port. Who wouldn’t want to “Book Here” for a taste of safe and satisfying drama?
A hidden contrast here would be the widespread Depression-era desperation as set against the blithe folks to the fore in this blue chip phenomenon. Another point of contrast was its ending by being torpedoed by a German U-boat in 1940. A RARE poster!
Kenneth Denton Shoesmith was a member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolors and the British Society of Poster Designers. He exhibited widely, and much of his work was for the Canadian Pacific Railway.