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Wood carving that broke away as Titanic sank to go on display

By Staff Reporter

The largest remaining panel fragment from the first class lounge of the Titanic will return to the UK for the first time since the ship sailed from Southampton in 1912 for a major exhibition on the history of ocean liners.

It is one of more than 250 objects including paintings, sculptures and ship models which will go on display in London next year at the Victoria and Albert Museum's Ocean Liners: Speed And Style exhibition.

The ornate wooden panel was found floating in the Atlantic after the Belfast-built ship sank on April 14.

It features a Louis XV-style carved decoration of musical instruments, showing the opulent style in which the ship was crafted at Harland and Wolff.

Titanic sank during her maiden voyage.

It is the first time the panel - thought to be the largest fragment recovered from the ship - has been back to Europe. It was previously housed at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Exhibition curator Ghislaine Wood said: "What is remarkable about this panel is it shows where the ship actually split in two. The panel was at the point where the split was, so it broke off and rose to the surface while the ship sank under the waves."

This year also marks two decades since James Cameron's blockbuster about the disaster starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio was released.

Other highlights from the exhibition include a Christian Dior suit worn by Marlene Dietrich on board the Queen Elizabeth in 1950 and a precious Cartier tiara owned by Lady Marguerite Allan that was recovered after the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915 by a German U-boat in which two of her daughters drowned.

The exhibition will detail the history of liners from 1850 to the rise of air travel and the maiden voyage of the Queen Elizabeth 2 in 1969, through their promotion, engineering, style and the lifestyle offered on board, as well as their influence on pop culture and other aspects of design.

Many items from the Normandie, hailed by the exhibition's curator as the "greatest art deco works every created", will go on display, including a panel from the smoking room, alongside a 26-foot model of the Queen Elizabeth from 1948 and furniture from the Queen Mary.

Ocean Liners: Speed and Style will run at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London from February 3 to June 10.

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