Ship model, 18th century sailing ship, miniature, unrigged, deck detailing include carved figure head, guns in carriages, mounted on two small columns on circular wood base and encase in glass dome, R E Klippel, 1943
This model is one of 5 miniature ship models made by Robert Klippel when serving in the Royal Australian Navy during WW11 . Klippel is now regarded as one of Australia's greatest sculptors ,and these ship models are highly significant as examples of his earliest work.
As a boy, Klippel was fascinated by the collection of model ships in the old Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, precursor of the Powerhouse Museum. He trained as a wool classer ,but at the outbreak of WW11, joined the Royal Australian Navy ,serving first as a seaman on a minesweeper ,and then as a gunner on a tanker. In 1943 , his skill in carving miniature ship models led to his joining the Naval Gunnery Instruction Centre to make scale models of ships and aircraft used to instruct sailors in recognition training to be able to identify different types of vessels and aircraft. In his leisure time, apart from attending evening classes in sculpture, he carved models of sailing ships. This ship model was carved during this time. After the war, he studied at the Slade School of Fine Art in New York ,and the following year at the Abbey Arts Centre in London.
From 1950, he worked as an industrial designer to produce functional and contemporary furniture. A prototype coffee table of his work is on exhibit in the Powerhouse Museum. Klippel is now regarded as one of Australia's greatest sculptors. He was very prolific, and utilised an extraordinary diversity of materials; wood, stone, plastic toy kits, wooden pattern parts, typewriter machinery, industrial piping and machine parts as welll as bronze, silver, oils, photographs, collage and paper. He is noted for the great diversity of scale of his work ,for intricate whimsical structures in metal to large wooden assemblages. He had completed over 1200 sculptures before his death in 2001.
This model was made in 1943 during WW11, when Klippel was serving in the Royal Australian Navy as a gunner on a tanker.