Dupas’ SS Normandie mural offered at Sotheby’s

A section of Jean-Theodore Dupas’ iconic art deco mural for the first class dining room of the SS Normandie is set to cross the block at Sotheby’s.

The extraordinary work was formed of enormous glass panels depicting four stories from Greek myth.   

Normandie deco panels

The panels depict part of a scene from the birth of Aphrodite 

It towered over diners in the narrow space.

The eight panels offered in the sale are from the section illustrating the birth of Aphrodite.

The Normandie was built in France for Compagnie Generale Transatlantique (CGT) and launched in 1935.

At the time it was the largest, fastest passenger ship on the seas. After the German invasion of Poland in 1939, it was interred in New York harbour.

As the war ground on, it was stripped of its finery and an attempt was made to convert it to a troop carrier - although this was abandoned in 1942 after it caught fire and sank. 

In 1981, these panels were acquired by billionaire publishing tycoon Malcolm Forbes. 

For many years they stood in the lobby of the Forbes building in Manhattan, up until its closure in 2014.  

"Dupas's spectacular panels from the Normandie are one of the most storied icons from the Art Deco era, and it is unprecedented for the market to see a series of eight panels that form such a strong, dynamic pictorial scene," said Jodi Pollack, co-head of 20th century design at Sotheby’s.

"Collectors have always been fascinated with the Normandie, perhaps because of the miraculous events that led to the survival of its extraordinary art and furnishings. There is a growing appreciation for 20th century design that exhibits superlative quality, rarity and pedigree, and these panels are best in class."

There’s no estimate available for the lot, but another 10 panels from the Aphrodite section of the mural sold for $512,500 at Sotheby’s in 2009.  

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