Anglofiles and history buffs already know that Sir Winston Churchill is considered “The Greatest Englishman of All Time,” according to a recent poll released in Britain. But did you know that besides Churchill being in the same league as legendary statesmen Thomas Jefferson and Talleyrand, he was also the stout defender of the “free peoples,” the author of 43 books, as well as accomplished landscape painter. In fact, he earned the prestigious "Honorary Academician Extraordinary by the Royal Academy of Arts" award in 1948. During the last 50 years of his life-- he did not take up the paintbrush until he was 40--Churchill completed 500 paintings, the vast majority of which are still in his Chartwell home.
Very few of Churchill's paintings ever come on the market, and in spite of his being a prolific artist, he gave only a few of his works as gifts, and when he did, they were gifted to other remarkable people, such as Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who received this oil painting which depicts the famed Tower of Katoubia Mosque at sunset with the snowcapped Atlas Mountains in the distance. For Churchill, this was "the most beautiful place in the world".
Besides its illustrious painter, this painting has enormous historical significance because it was painted at one of the major turning points during WWII. The first of the three great Allied conferences of WWII was held in Casablanca from January 14th to 24th, 1943. The US had successfully landed troops on the North West African continent in Operation TORCH, beginning the long awaited “second front”. Churchill and Roosevelt met and it was here that they agreed upon only accepting “unconditional surrender” from the Axis powers. At the end of the conference, Roosevelt was anxious to get home, but Churchill begged and convinced him to take some time off to go visit Marrakech. Churchill said “You cannot come all this way to North Africa without seeing Marrakech. Let us spend two days there. I must be with you when you see the sun set on the Atlas Mountains.”
They made the 150-mile journey with the road lined with American soldiers cheering them on. Staying at the Villa Taylor, which was owned by the wealthy American socialite Mrs. Moses Taylor, Churchill convinced Roosevelt to view the sunset from the top of the famed Berber tower. The President’s personal assistants, making a chair with their crossed arms, carried him to the top. Roosevelt was so taken with the scene from the tower; he exclaimed to the Prime Minister "I feel like a sultan, you may kiss my hand my dear.”
This historically significant work bears a remarkable and complete provenance. Visit MS Rau Antiques for more information.