The Friday Gem from the Stoddard Templeton Design Archive this week features a number of carpet designs created by James Templeton & Co for luxury liners. The Templeton publication Carpets and Interiors: A guide for Architects, Decorators, Furnishers, Hoteliers, & Shipbuilders noted:
Luxury passenger liners are traditionally big users of good quality carpets and the magnificent ships of the Cunard fleet all carry Templeton carpets. The public rooms of a passenger liner are by tradition expected to reflect the latest trends in furnishing taste and the patterns selected are usually very striking both in form and in colour.
The Design Archive includes a design sketch for the lounge carpet of the Cunard Atlantic liner RMS Aquitania (STOD/DES/133/27).
Templeton was commissioned to create a luxurious carpet for the first class lounge, described as being ‘undoubtedly the most notable room in the ship’. Engineering recorded that:
The colour scheme is wine red and grey, and with the treatment reminiscent of Sir Christopher Wren’s work. The central part of the room, which is 18 ft. in height, has, as its central panel, an original canvas by Van Cuygen, and the spandrels at the end of the room on each side of the arches are after Jean Baptiste Van Lee’s panels of the elements – Fire, Earth, Water, and Heaven. At one end of the room is a fireplace with niches on each sde, and at the other a semicircular stage with a coffered vault, under which is a reproduction of the Mortlake tapestry representing the battle of Solebay. The floor is of oak.
The photograph below shows the large Templeton carpet in situ.
RMS Aquitania was a Cunard Line ocean liner designed by Leonard Peskett and built by John Brown & Co., in Clydebank. Launched on 21 April 1913, she sailed on her maiden voyage to New York on 30 May 1914. Aquitania was the third in Cunard Line’s ‘grand trio’ of express liners, and was the last surviving four funnelled ocean liner. 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 was returned to passenger service after each war.
Another great liner for whom Templeton also created carpets was RMS Queen Mary.
While we haven’t found any patterns or sketches in the Design Archive itself, The Templetonian features an article in its June 1936 edition.
In the Autumn of last year the Firm received a substantial order for carpets for Cabin Class Staterooms and for a number of principal public rooms of the new Cunard White Star Liner. From time to time… the Firm has supplied large quantities of carpets for both Cunard and White Star vessels, but this was the first order received from the combined Company.
The public rooms covered with Templeton carpets were: The Main Lounge, Long Gallery, Drawing Room, and Library, as illustrated below left, along with the Tourist Class Smoking Room, the carpet for which is pictured with a group of workers in one of Templeton’s finishing departments.
The designs were chiefly the work of the Templeton designing staff, with the exception of the striking design for the Long Gallery, which was the work of Agnes Pinder Davis. Within the Associated Design Archive we have a photographic record of the design patterns created for these carpets along with a photograph of a small piece of carpet based on the design for the Library (STOD/201/1/7/13).
Within the illustrations of the finished and furnished vessel these carpets can be easily identified, all capturing the Art Deco style of the day.
The publication Templeton Present Carpets of Distinction noted that such ‘carpets are of the most luxurious Wilton manufacture,’ a sentiment echoed in The Templetonian, which noted:
These public room carpets presented many novel features from a manufacturing point of view, principally the depth of pile and weight of the fabrics…. Possibly no heavier or deeper pile carpets have been produced by the Firm, and as an indication of the weight, it may be mentioned that the Main Lounge Carpets themselves weighed about 3 tonnes.
The library carpet was completed first and in position for King George’s visit to the ship on 5 March 1936. This commission was clearly quite a coup for James Templeton & Co., and they traded on their association with such an iconic vessel by exhibiting samples of the carpets at the British Industries Fair, and featuring them in window displays throughout the country. Moreover, the company considered the completion of this contract as a great triumph.
To all who assisted in such a helpful and enthusiastic spirit to produce the carpets for the ‘Queen Mary’ and have them on board and in position ‘on time’ for the great ship’s sailing date, we take this opportunity of expressing our grateful thanks.
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