Talk at Library on Historic Painting and Cunard Line

The ‘Queen Mary’ was the second of several historic painting titled “A History of Shipping” by Frederick Leonard King to be restored. The painting by King depicting the Queen Mary was overhauled at Oliver Brothers Restoration with a grant by the East Boston Foundation (EBF) and later returned the Bremen Street Library during an unveiling gala.

On Thursday, May 23, at 6 p.m. the Friends of the East Boston Branch Library (FOL) are sponsoring a presentation by local historian, Roberta Marchi about East Boston, the Cunard Line and our library’s Queen Mary painting.

The talk will be followed by The Great Liners, Part 13, and “The Queen Mary“ which features rare movie footage of the ship. The group received special permission from producers Des Cox and Snowbow Productions to show their film on May 23.

The Cunard Line has a presence in Eastie back in the 1800s with the Cunard Pier located near the former Maverick House hotel.

To welcome the restored Queen Mary back, the FOL invited the Gloucester Hornpipe and Clog Society to entertain the crowd with maritime songs. An original song celebrating the Queen Mary’s return was also written in her honor.

Along with the grant from the EBF, funding for the painting’s gold rope frame has been funded by the Boston Public Library.

FOL kicked off a fundraising effort two years ago with the goal of raising $50,000 to begin restoring the rest of the group of historic paintings.

In April 2012, the FOL reached a compromise with Boston Public Library (BPL) administrators on how to display the group of paintings by King in the new library on Bremen Street. Several painting are no on display in the library’s quiet room.

Oliver Brothers. Fine Art Restoration advised FOL members that the paintings need cleaning, backings, repainting, and frames.

The paintings were originally at the Jeffries Point Branch on Webster Street. When the Jeffries Point branch was closed the murals were put up at the Meridian Street branch. However, some rumors floated around East Boston that BPL administrators were of the opinion that the paintings would not fit the decor of the new state-of-the-art modern library currently that was built on Bremen Street and were quietly trying to block the community’s efforts to hang the paintings at the new branch.

There were originally 30 paintings in the series but During BPL’s move from Webster Street to Meridian Street something happened that changed how this series is viewed forever.

In 2011 FOL received a grant from the East Boston Foundation to identify, appraise, recommend conservation, and photograph the series of King paintings.

Two paintings in particular, the ‘Flying Cloud’ and the ‘Sovereign of the Seas,’ depict ships built by famed shipbuilder and Eastie resident Donald McKay at his shipyard on Border Street.

The group of paintings, titled was a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project under the Federal Arts Project (FAP) dating from 1935. The FAP was the visual arts arm of the Great Depression-era New Deal WPA Federal One program in the United States. It operated from August 29, 1935 until June 30, 1943. FAP’s primary goals were to employ out-of-work artists and to provide art for non-federal government buildings like schools, hospitals, libraries, etc.

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