The AP reports that Christie’s will sell the Moroccan landscape Tower of the Koutoubia Mosque — a gift from Sir Winston Churchill to U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt — from the art collection amassed by actress Angelina Jolie and her ex-husband, Brad Pitt, next month. The work could secure a price record for Churchill's art and is estimated to fetch from 1.5 million pounds to 2.5 million pounds ($2.1 million to $3.4 million).
Tower of the Koutoubia Mosque is being sold by the Jolie Family Collection at Christie's Modern British Art sale on March 1 in London. Jolie and Pitt purchased the work in 2011 and divorced in 2016. Depicting Marrakech's 12th-century mosque against the Atlas Mountains at sunset, it is a rare work that the British leader was able to finish during the 1939-1945 war years, reports the AP.
"Tower of the Koutoubia Mosque is….arguably the best painting by Winston Churchill due to the significance of the subject matter to him, and the fact that it highlights the importance of the friendship between the two leaders,” Nick Orchard, the Head of the Modern British Art Department at Christie’s, said in a statement. “The gifting of the work to Roosevelt underlines the fact that Churchill held the American President in such high regard and points to their joint efforts in guiding the Allied powers to the outcome of the Second World War.”
An earlier Churchill work in the sale, Scene at Marrakech (circa 1935, estimate: £300,000-500,000), was a gift from Churchill to Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, one of the most distinguished generals of the Second World War who played a vital role in the retreat from the battle of Dunkirk, which saved many allied lives. Montgomery was instrumental in the tactics that delivered an eventual victory for the allied forces in 1945. The painting has remained with the Montgomery family since it was gifted by Churchill and is being offered at auction for the first time.
Sir John Lavery, Churchill’s tutor in painting, was one of many friends who encouraged Churchill to visit Morocco and his first trip to the country was during 1935 where he was inspired by the warmth and quality of light that the environment offered, according to Christie's.