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Sotheby’s

Portrait of Sir Winston Churchill

Sotheby’s

The sale is lead by this incredible depiction of Winston Churchill relates to the infamous commissioned portrait which was painted by Graham Sutherland in 1954 in honour of Churchill’s 80th birthday, and was later famously destroyed. The celebration of Churchill’s 80th birthday was a remarkable event, and in total he received 150,000 presents from all over the world. For their gift, the Houses of Parliament proposed a painting by Graham Sutherland. Notably, neither Churchill, nor his wife Clementine, were consulted about the commission, and Churchill was dissatisfied with the result, saying the portrait made him appear ‘half- witted’ and on its unveiling in a ceremony at Westminster Hall in November stating it was a ‘fine example of modern art,’ to peals of laughter from the crowd. Such was the dislike for the portrait that within two years of its return to Chartwell, it had been burned.

The present work was painted during the sittings Sutherland had with Churchill at Chartwell for the commission. Sutherland and Churchill went back and forth about how he was to be depicted, and while Churchill was not an easy sitter, there was a mutual respect and friendship which developed between two fellow artists. The late, low sunshine in Churchill’s study at Chartwell on this day gives his skin a transparency, and the pose is also notably less direct than the final work, lending a charming intimacy and thoughtful vulnerability to the portrayal.

This work is accompanied by Oscar Nemon's famed study for the sculpture of Churchill which stands outside parliament, and also by one of Winston Churchill's own paintings from his stay at the Villa Choisy in Switzerland banks of Lac Léman, which was owned by the banker M. Alfred Kern.








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  • 10. Graham Sutherland Study of Sir Winston Churchill500,000 - 800,000 GBP
    10. Graham Sutherland Study of Sir Winston Churchill500,000 - 800,000 GBP
    Sotheby’s Auktionshaus