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Transportation, Aviation, Art, Seaplane, Sikorsky, US Navy, Wayne Davis, Vintage Watercolor, c. 1930s


Wayne Lambert Davis (1904-1988)
US Navy Patrol Sikorsky “Testing”
American: c. 1937-38
Watercolor on paper
Signed lower left in image
Titled lower right margin
16 x 21.5 inches, image (approximate)
17.25 x 23 inches, overall

Watercolor painting of a four-engine Sikorsky seaplane landing in the ocean and creating a wake. Shades of blue and pale green predominate, with bright yellow rims on the plane’s wing and tail. The plane is identified in the title as a “U.S. Navy Patrol Sikorsky.” This probably refers to the Sikorsky XPBS-1 patrol bomber “flying boat,” a prototype that the Sikorsky aircraft company built on spec for the U.S. Navy in the 1930s. The government contract ultimately went to one of their competitors, so only the single prototype was made. Its first test flight was on September 9, 1937, and the plane was evaluated by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics the following year. Although no others were built, the XPBS-1 remained in naval service, first at Norfolk, Virginia, then at Pearl Harbor, and then in Alameda, California. In 1942, it hit a submerged log while landing at Alameda and sank. Meanwhile, beginning in 1940, Sikorsky produced a commercial version of the seaplane, the VS-44A.

Product description continues below.


Wayne Lambert Davis was an artist and mining engineer from Pelham Manor, New York. He is known for his aviation subjects and landscapes, in watercolor, oils and etching. The son of a prominent executive, Davis graduated from Columbia University in 1926 with a degree in mining engineering. He spent a couple of years in merchandising and advertising for the silk industry and then at Macy’s. “Then I got a crack at aviation with Curtis,” he told an interviewer in 1941. While working for Curtis, an aircraft manufacturer, he studied at both the Guggenheim School of Aeronautics at New York University and the Art Students League, and brought together his interests in art and aeronautical design by becoming an accomplished aviation artist. Newspaper articles published between 1935 and 1941 describe him as a successful artist who was known for his depictions of aircraft and who had several exhibitions with Schwartz Galleries in New York. The 1941 interview found him about to leave on a gold mining expedition in the West, preparing designs for “an aeronautical mural in one of the big airplane terminals in the New York area” and planning to exhibit aviation etchings “in prominent New York City art galleries.” A proficient skier who taught skiing at Sun Valley and in Woodstock, New York, Davis also produced popular etchings and watercolors of ski scenes.

Inscriptions: The painting is titled in pencil in the lower margin. It is also numbered in a different hand lower right “A12204” and lower left “#6918” followed by other numbers and symbols.

Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall minor toning. Some mat burn in outer margins from former matting can be rematted out. Brown paper tape on outer margins, backside, from former matting appears stable and not affecting the front.


“Modern Art Follows The Trail of ’49 When Wayne Davis Goes Out For Gold.” Pelham Sun. 22 August 1941. p. 5. Online at Old Fulton New York Post Cards:
Pelham%20NY%20Sun%201941%20-%200373.pdf (6 August 2013).

“Sikorsky VS-44.” Wikipedia. 12 June 2013. (6 August 2013).

“Sikorsky XPBS-1 (7/26/1943).” Internet Archive. 23 September 2009. (6 August 2013).

“Wayne Davis and His Bride Will Make Home Here.” The Pelham Sun 25 January 1935. Online at Old Fulton New York Post Cards:
Pelham%20NY%20Sun%201935%20-%200054.pdf (6 August 2013).

Additional information


20th Century