Sunday, 9 March 2014


“Experiments with a child’s paint-box led me the next morning to produce a complete outfit in oils.” – Winston Churchill
For Art Sunday today, art by a non-artist. Rather, art by a man better known for his achievements as a writer, statesman and politician. Sir Winston Churchill (1874 – 1965) was one of the great world leaders of the 20th century. His leadership helped Britain to stand strong against Hitler and the Nazis, even when they were the last country left fighting. He is also famous for his inspiring speeches and quotes.
Churchill was born on November 30th, 1874 in Oxfordshire, England. He was actually born in a room in Blenheim Palace. His parents were wealthy aristocrats. His father, Lord Randolph Churchill, was a politician who held many high offices in the British government. Young Winston attended the Royal Military College and joined the British cavalry upon graduation. He travelled to many places while with the military and worked as a newspaper correspondent, writing stories about battles and being a soldier. While in South Africa during the Second Boer War, Winston Churchill was captured and became a prisoner of war. He managed to escape from prison and traveled 300 miles to be rescued. As a result, he became something of a hero in Britain for a while.
In 1900 Churchill was elected to Parliament. Over the next 30 years he would hold a number of different offices in the government including a cabinet post in 1908. Churchill married Clementine Hozier in 1908. They had five children including four daughters and one son. His career had many ups and downs during this time, but he also became famous for many of his writings. At the outbreak of World War II, Churchill became First Lord of the Admiralty in command of the Royal Navy. At the same time the current Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, wanted to appease Germany and Hitler. Churchill knew this would not work and warned the government that they needed to help fight Hitler or Hitler would soon take over all of Europe. As Germany continued to advance, the country lost confidence in Chamberlain. Finally, Chamberlain resigned and Winston Churchill was chosen to be his successor as Prime Minister on May 10, 1940.
Soon after Churchill became Prime Minister, Germany invaded France and Britain was alone in Europe fighting Hitler. Churchill inspired his country to keep fighting despite the bad circumstances. He also helped to forge an alliance of Allied Powers with the Soviet Union and the United States. Even though he did not like Joseph Stalin and the communists of the Soviet Union, he knew the Allies needed their help to fight Germany. With the Allies help, and Churchill’s leadership, the British were able to hold off Hitler. After a long and brutal war they were able to defeat Hitler and the Germans.
After the war, Churchill’s party lost the election and he was no longer Prime Minister. He was still a major leader in the government, however. He was again elected Prime Minister in 1951. He served his country for many years and then retired. He died on January 24, 1965. Churchill was concerned about the Soviet Union and the Red Army. He felt they were just as dangerous as Hitler now that the Germans were defeated. He was right as soon after World War II ended, the Cold War between the Western nations of NATO (such as Britain, France, USA) and communist Soviet Union began.
Some interesting facts about Churchill:
  • He wrote a number of historical books and won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1953.
  • He was named an honorary citizen of the United States.
  • Winston did not do well in school as a child. He also had trouble getting into the Royal Military College. Although, once in, he finished near the top of his class.
  • He was not healthy during World War II. He had a heart attack in 1941 and pneumonia in 1943.
Churchill was forty before he discovered the pleasures of painting. The compositional challenge of depicting a landscape gave the heroic rebel in him temporary repose. He possessed the heightened perception of the genuine artist to whom no scene is commonplace. Over a period of forty-eight years his creativity yielded more than 500 pictures. His art quickly became half passion, half philosophy. He enjoyed holding forth in speech and print on the aesthetic rewards for amateur devotees. To him it was the greatest of hobbies. He had found his other world: A respite from crowding events and pulsating politics.
Winston Churchill took great pleasure in painting, especially after his resignation as First Lord of the Admiralty in 1915. He found a haven in art to overcome the spells of depression which he suffered throughout his life. Churchill was persuaded and taught to paint by his artist friend, Paul Maze, whom he met during the First World War. Maze was a great influence on Churchill’s painting and became a lifelong painting companion.
Churchill is best known for his impressionist scenes of landscape, many of which were painted while on holiday in the South of France, Egypt or Morocco. Using the pseudonym “Charles Morin” he continued his hobby throughout his life and painted hundreds of paintings, many of which are on show in the studio at Chartwell as well as private collections.
Most of his paintings are oil-based and feature landscapes, but he also did a number of interior scenes and portraits. In 1925 Lord Duveen, Kenneth Clark, and Oswald Birley selected his Winter Sunshine as the prize winner in a contest for anonymous amateur artists. Due to obvious time constraints, Churchill attempted only one painting during the Second World War. He completed the painting from the tower of the Villa Taylor in Marrakesh.
Some of his paintings can today be seen in the Wendy and Emery Reves Collection at the Dallas Museum of Art. Emery Reves was Churchill’s American publisher, as well as a close friend and Churchill often visited Emery and his wife at their villa, ‘La Pausa’, in the South of France, which had originally been built in 1927 for Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel by her lover Bendor, 2nd Duke of Westminster. The villa was rebuilt within the museum in 1985 with a gallery of Churchill paintings and memorabilia.
The painting above is “The Harbour at St. Jean Cap Ferrat” (1921). Here you can find a site where many of Churchill’s paintings may be accessed and admired.

1 comment:

  1. Soon the public will be able to see a very recently discovered daguerreotype of Churchill, made a few days before his 21st birthday. Those interested should email me at, and I will advise further.