Sir Winston Churchill put brush to canvas

  • NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana
  • /
  • December 21, 2010

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A stunning painting entitled Pont du Gard, Nimes by Sir Winston Churchill.
M.S. Rau Antiques


After retiring as one of the world's most famous statesmen, Sir Winston Churchill hung up his diplomatic hat and developed his skills as an artist. Having scarcely visited a museum during his tenure as Great Britain's Prime Minister, he nevertheless painted 500 works on canvas over the 40 years in the last half of his illustrious life.  One of his early works, Pont du Gard, 1930, was acquired recently by Rau Antiques, but it's important to point out that Churchill's paintings rarely surface in the art market. 

A personal and political disaster, the Dardanelles campaign, caused Churchill to take up painting in 1915. Hardly a hobby for this larger-than-life career diplomat, painting for Churchill became cathartic and he is quoted as telling the fellow artist Sir John Rothenstein: "If it weren't for painting, I couldn't live; I couldn't bear the strain of things."  

He is widely regarded as one of the great wartime leaders. He served as prime minister twice (1940-45 and 1951-55). A noted statesman and orator, Churchill was also an officer in the British Army, a historian, writer, and an artist. To date, he is the only British prime minister to have received the Nobel Prize in Literature. Upon his death, Queen Elizabeth II granted him the honor of a state funeral, which saw one of the largest assemblies of statesmen in the world paying their tributes.  

Regardless of Churchill's larger-than-life career, he had a gift for color and brushstroke and was able to realistically depict landmarks and country scapes such as this Pont du Gard, painted in 1930. Dramatic brushstrokes and vibrant colors come together in a playful, bold rendition of this ancient aqueduct crossing the river Nimes in central southern France.  This painting was a gift to Dame Pattie Menzies, wife of Sir Robert Menzies, Prime Minister of Australia.

In 1948, the Royal Academy of Arts awarded Sir Winston its prestigious Honorary Academician Extraordinary. While approximately 350 of his paintings are housed in Churchill's garden studio at Chartwell, his other works can be found in the permanent collections in The Royal Academy; Tate Gallery; The Metropolitan Museum of Art; The Smithsonian Institution; Dallas Museum of Art, and Museum of Art Sao Paolo.  


Tags: european art

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