In September, 1935, the SS Orion left Tilbury Docks in London on its first voyage to Sydney with hundreds of these menu cards on board. Passengers requisitioned these examples during the August, 1937, voyage. All were from a set of eight linocuts designed for the Orient Line by Mavrogordato (1903 - 1992). The card in reality is pale buff rather than the dull pink you see here.
She was something of an exotic bird herself. Born on the Isle of Wight, she was educated at Headington School and St Hilda's, Oxford, her mother the artist and illustrator Elsie Napier Bell and her father from a well-known and wealthy Chios family some of whom had moved to London by way of Pera in Constantinople. (They were patrons of the Orthodox church in Bayswater's Moscow Rd).
Whether or not she drew from life is open to question. Her mother certainly had New Zealand connections before her marriage. Mavrogordato herself graduated in 1925 but there appears to be no record of art school training. Perhaps having a mother an artist was enough. But I am sure having Ottoman grandparents to hand would make you feel different, certainly cosmopolitan. The subdued sophistication of these menu cards would have acted as both incentive and reminder as diners worked their way through ptarmigan, turkey and peppermint fondants (my favourites!)
I used to find the cards oddly unexciting but there's a finesse and gentleness about them that I've grown to like. They are also a good example of the increasing use of intelligent graphic design by companies and a nicely pitched blend of elegance and exclusivity. Something tells me she knew her market. (Speaking of the market, there should be lots of them out there; they were in use into the 1950s).