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WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060

Paintings From the Abbott Collection; Naval Aviation

 Lawrence Beall Smith

Born in Washington, D.C., in 1909, Smith graduated from the University of Chicago and received art training at nights at Chicago's Art Institute, summers at Gloucester and under Hopkinson and Zimmerman of Boston. His work has been exhibited in the International Exhibition of Lithography and Wood Engraving at the Chicago Art Institute. Smith's work in represented in permanent collections of Herron Art Institute, Harvard University's Addison Gallery, University of Minnesota, Sheldon Swope Art Gallery, and many private collections. He was appointed art instructor for city schools in Boston.


Language All Their Own
Lawrence Beall Smith #1
Oil, 1943
Gift of Abbott Laboratories
33 3/4h" x 51 1/2w"

Hand signals are the language of the flight deck aboard an aircraft carrier. Little else would be distinguishable above the roar of engines and the rush of wind. Here taxi signalmen impart their terse messages to pilots and chockmen as they spot landed planes at appointed parking places. The signalmen in the foreground signifies by clenched fist that he wishes the pilot to lock his brakes, while with his right hand he tells the chockmen to pull clear the wheel chocks. Planes aboard a carrier are always chocked against the wind and roll of the deck except when taxiing or when being moved by a handling crew. In the background, an Avenger torpedo bomber already has folded its wings to conserve deck space.


Task Force Hornets
Lawrence Beall Smith #13
Oil on Board, 1943
Gift of Abbott Laboratories
28 1/2h" x 39w"

The operations island a grim gray redoubt against the sky, this aircraft carrier steams behind her task force screen with a swarm of fighters at ready on the flight deck. To be first off, planes of a fighter squadron stand at Fly One, the take-off spot. Behind them, in order, will be the dive bombers and the torpedo bombers. Meanwhile, as signal pennants snap from the truck, handling crews and pilots await the orders which will send these Grumman fighters snarling into the air.


Coming Aboard
Lawrence Beall Smith #12
Oil on Board, 1943
Gift of Abbott Laboratories
29h" x 39w"

Back from patrol, Navy Dauntless scout bombers make their landing circle and come in on the broad flight deck of an aircraft carrier. From the "bird cage" on the island, where the white flying flag is hoisted, the Air Control Officer, and the Group Commander observe operations. On deck, handling crews sprint forward to take charge of each returning plane, spot it forward and start servicing. Off the port beam an escorting destroyer rushes about busily in screening operations.


Scuttlebutt Session
Lawrence Beall Smith #8
Charcoal, 1943
Gift of Abbott Laboratories
20h" x 25 1/2w"

The Navy has a word for it--"scuttlebutt"--the shipboard grapevine by which even the Skipper's innermost thoughts seemingly can be divined and relayed with constant improvements. A plane handling crew, at ease in the lee of an aircraft carrier's island superstructure, participate in the shipboard pastime of passing along the latest scuttlebutt while awaiting return of the squadrons.

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02 May 2006