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Guest Stories

Thank you Giancarlo…..

June 28, 2011

We Are Cunard

Posted in: Guest Stories, Updates

Hello All

Many of you will have seen the wonderful art on board each of our ships. We are fortunate to have a mix of fine artists covering a wide range of tastes – and of course we have some unique historic art of many of the most exciting times in our history. Where do we get it all from I hear you say, how on earth does an artist get a painting onto a famous ocean liner. Well we thought it would be interesting for one of our valued artists to tell his story – and it is quite a story of endurance, creativity, passion – well quite a lot of passion actually. The story below comes from Giancarlo Impiglia – his distinctive art hangs on all three of our ships. We are all very grateful for his passion and for the very distinctive art that he has created for us. So over to you Giancarlo…

I was first approached by Cunard in 1994 to produce some artwork for QE2, when the then President John Olsen had spotted my work in a restaurant on Broadway.  Over the years I have also been commissioned to create artwork for Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and the new Queen Elizabeth.

It was important for me to be a part of the new ship. After all, in an online article on Cunard Line, I was referred to as “Giancarlo Impiglia, Artist to the Queens”

During the fall of 2009 I was invited to present sketches and studies to Cunard’s interior design team, who were selecting the artwork of many artists invited to create paintings for Queen Elizabeth. They needed to approve the initial sketches in order to coordinate colour and subject matter in harmony with the ship’s interior.

I was commissioned to create three paintings for the staircase B on deck 9 and 10.

I started to work on the project with my usual enthusiasm, for each canvas I sketched many different drawings from which to select the final image. I wanted to reach a sense of continuity with the paintings I previously created for the QE2 and Queen Mary 2.

My studio was crowded with sketches on paper hanging with scotch tape on the walls and on the windows: details of heads, of hands, of dresses and hats for the women, tuxedos for the men and   musical instruments.

By the end of the Spring, full-scale drawings for the new paintings were finally hanging on the white walls of my large studio.

Simultaneously I was working on a painting commissioned by FIFA to represent the Italian football team at the World Cup in South Africa which started in June 2010.

It was a very exciting summer.

In order to keep the three works in harmony with each other I placed the three canvases on the studio wall next to each other and worked on the paintings at the same time like if it was a single painting.

For the largest canvas (72”x 48”) I designed a formal night in the ship’s Restaurant, my own interpretation of the Britannia Restaurant where elegant guests are dining in an elegant environment. To re create the modern art deco interior I was inspired by the interior of the first Queen Mary: elegant and glamorous.

In one of the two smaller paintings I designed guests in formal attire descending the elegant staircase of the ship on the way to attend a show in the theatre. Women in colourful gowns with long gloves covering their arms and wearing precious jewellery are descending the stairs holding their companions arm.

I spent the entire summer of 2010 on the three paintings, committed to creating images not just for the decor of the ship interior but also for my own satisfaction and my pride.

During the month of August 2010 I completed the three paintings, they were shipped to Italy where they were installed on the ship, on deck 10 on Staircase B, as previously planned by the designers.

Now I had only to wait for my visit on the ship and see the paintings in their new and permanent home in the newest floating palace: Queen Elizabeth.

My wife and I were invited once again to the naming ceremony  that was going to take place, like the naming ceremony of Queen Victoria, on the docks of Southampton.

Her majesty the Queen officially named the new ocean liner; it was a fantastic and memorable event.

Arriving on board Queen Elizabeth was like coming home; a beautiful home in a floating palace. A familiar and elegant ambiance where friendships are born and camaraderie is part of life.

Now it was time to look for my three paintings….I had been waiting months for this moment.

I took the elevator to deck 10 and …there they were, nicely framed, 2 on the landing and the largest on the staircase between deck 9 and 10.


I saw a couple of guests stopping in front of the larger canvas and I heard them saying “These paintings are by the artist who painted the murals on the QE2 and on Queen Mary 2, I recognise the style…. his name is…” Looking at the tag under the painting…. “Giancarlo Impiglia”

I felt a sense of pride for what I have accomplished, my style is my signature. Being recognised among many art works on display it was for me the greatest reward I could get from my paintings.

I left the couple admiring my paintings. I walked away smiling.

The following morning after breakfast, we disembarked from the magnificent vessel.

But my story did not end there. A week later, October 24, 2010, I flew back to London to embark once again on Queen Elizabeth.

I had an invitation to return on board to present a lecture on art during Queen Elizabeth’s 2nd voyage, we were sailing to Barcelona, Montecarlo, Livorno and Civitavecchia.
It was only a one week voyage, during which I did a talk on Michelangelo and the making of the Sistine Chapel.

My lecture was attended by a full theatre and I was introduced to the audience as the artist whose works of art are featured on all the 4 Queens. The topic was important to all guests but even more important for the people going on excursion to Florence from Livorno and to Rome from Civitavecchia.

On 2 November Queen Elizabeth arrived in the port of Civitavecchia, about 3000 years of history were waiting for us.

Sadly I disembarked the ship. My sister was waiting for me with her car. She drove me home in the centre of the “Eternal City” were I grew up.The joy to be back in my beautiful city and see my Italian family and old friends put me in a good mood but…deep in my heart I was still in the middle of the ocean, on deck of the Queen Elizabeth looking out to the infinite horizon.

Thank you Giancarlo – if everybody had your passion for creativity and success then the world would be a better place. I liken Giancarlo to some of our most creative Chefs – creative , passionate,  talented and never takes ‘No’ for an answer.

That’s all for now.  Wherever you are reading this – I trust you are keeping well. An exciting week ahead for us in the UK – especially as this coming Sunday our own Andy Murray (a fellow Scot) is going to win Wimbledon for the first time ……..

Best Regards

Peter Shanks

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  1. S. Nicol says:

    Interested to hear you are a fellow Scot, Peter! Here’s hoping for a Scot in the final at Wimbledon!! However, may the best player win!
    Sarah.

  2. Gerald says:

    I saw some of his paintings during my college days, it really shows elegance and class. I love it.

  3. judith sayers says:

    Looking forward to seeing the paintings on our trip, 2 days to go, pity we will miss the tennis, or will it be on in the pub?

  4. Peter Shanks says:

    Yes, we’ll be showing Andy Murray winning Wimbledon on all three of our ships this Sunday!

  5. Beryl Moss says:

    Looking forward to seeing the paintings when we are on Queen Elizabeth in August. A very interesting blog.

  6. J. Jones says:

    they are truly fantastic paintings i looked at them evry day during our cruise on the queen elizabeth in december and am looking forward to this december as well.

    j. jones

  7. we have been very lucky to meet giancarlo on two cruises and his wife we allways looked at the murals on the QE2 lido resturant he his a very nice gentleman and a great artist.

  8. Peter Shanks says:

    Oops – so I was rather over confident on Andy Murray winning Wimbledon. Never mind – I think he did his best and got to the semi-fibnal for the third year running. There is always next year….. Peter

  9. Joanne says:

    I am lucky enough to have a sister who sailed with Giancarlo and met him personally. Sometime after that cruise my sister visited me at my home in East Quogue, NY. Giancarlo has told my sister that if she were ever in the hamptons to call him and come by the studio. We met Giancarlo and his wife at his studio in a town in the hamptons where I was truly amazed at his beautiful works of art. I wanted every piece he had hanging. Not only is Giancarlo a wonderful artist he is a lovely and down to earth person, as is his wife. If you ever get to see his work, you will also be a lucky person, like me.

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