Ship model and case, pilot ship, miniature, comprehensive details, finished in black and set in a painted hand formed seascape (by John Allcot), Robert Klippel, 1940
This model is one of 5 miniature model ships made by Robert E. 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. John C Allcot, who painted the plaster seascape, is recognised as one of the leading Australian artists painting landscapes, sailing ships and steamers.
As a boy, Klippel was fascinated by the collection of model ships in the old Museum od Applied Arts and Sciences , precursor of the Powerhouse Museum. He trained a a wool classer, but at the outbreak of WW11, joined the Royal Australian Navy serving first as a seaman on an auxiliary 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 continued carving models of sailing ships. 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 well as bronze, silver, oils, photographs, collage and paper. He is noted for the great diversity of scale of his work, from intricate whimsical structures in metal, to large wooden assemblages. He had completed over 1200 sculptures before his death in 2001.
John C. Allcot , at 16, ran away to sea, first on Mersey tugboats, then as a deck-boy on the barque "Invermark", and then signing on in Sydney on the clipper "Antiope". He also supported himself by painting theatre sets, obtaining commissions for ships paintings, painting and selling landscapes, and as an illustrator and writing articles about the sea for the 'Sydney Mail'. He gained widespread recognition in the 1920's with a series of oil paintings on the founding of the Australian colonies.In the 1940's he collaborated with Robert Klippel on painting backgrounds for his ship models as in this model of a pilot ship. Allcot used water colour, oils and gouache to paint nostalgic views of sailing ships and steamers for an appreciative market of shipping companies, ship owners, captains and crews, as well as continuing to paint landscapes.
Model made in 1940 by Robert E. Kippel, with the painted plaster seascape by John C. Allcot.