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ALTON  S. TOBEY

The Evolution of  Shipbuilding mural
at the
American Bureau of Shipping

 

 

Tobey working on one of the three panels of the History of Shipbuilding Mural at the American Bureau of Shipping in New York

          Created by Alton Tobey in 1973, this 11 x 47 foot mural is a tribute to the history of shipbuilding -- a realistic montage containing over fifty images of ships and their details and more than a dozen life-sized figures in the foreground. In the background are many smaller sized figures building different kinds of ships, including off-shore rigs, submersibles and synchrofolia. The mural was mounted on the curved wall of the rotunda in the American Bureau of Shipping at 45 Broad Street in New York City, and most recently has been moved to Houston Texas when the company relocated its headquarters there.


 



CLICK ON ANY OF THE THREE PARTS OF THE MURAL ABOVE TO SEE LARGER IMAGES
THEN USE YOUR BROWSER'S 'BACK' BUTTON TO RETURN TO THIS PAGE.

          Just about every kind of boat and ship known to man is included in this mural -- from a man floating on a log in water in prehistoric times to modern air-cushion vehicles, undersea observation vehicles, and even nuclear powered ships and submarines.

           Detailed drawings of high-technology components and processes that are part of the paintings demanded the absolute accuracy in rendering that Tobey had become known for -- from the placement of sails, lines and tack on older vessels to the specifications of intricate hardware on modern ships. This was particularly true since visitors to the rotunda at the American Bureau of Shipping were all mostly highly knowledgeable about these subjects; and that these details of the mural would be subject to very close scrutiny.

          Among the dozen life-sized figures in the murals are also two head-and-shoulders portraits, one of J.D. Jones, founder in the 19th Century of the American Bureau of Shipping, and the other of Stevenson Taylor, the 20th Century executive who expanded the ABS function from rating captains and inspecting ships to evaluating the construction and safety standards of ships around the world.

          But even the presence of these two prominent leaders is dwarfed by the power of the three figures in the central panel above the doorway -- much larger than life -- of workmen performing the actual labor of constructing these vessels -- toiling with adze, riveting gun and welding tools. The clang of the hammers and riveters and sparks of the welding iron seem to inundate the visitor to this massive room, dedicated to man's development of transportation across the seas.

    "Frequently, I get hung up in the research because it's so fascinating. I must confess, occasionally when I'm finished with what I'm doing, I lose interest in it because of the pressure of a hundred other new ideas which take its place."

---Alton Tobey

           More detailed information on the specific images in this mural will be added to these pages in the future. If you would like to be notified when we have made these additions, please contact us or sign our guest book.

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The Alton Tobey Collection
New York: 212.260.9240 -- Chicago: 773.472.2659
Judith Tobey, David Tobey; Directors -- Joe L. Dolice, Curator -- Josh Smithson, Projects Manager

All copy & images on this website copyright � Alton Tobey 2004 et al.
No part of this site may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publishers.