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Winston Churchill and the Black Panther’s Son Revealed in New Exhibition at Leighton House Museum

20 January-31 March, 2011
Leighton House Museum, 12 Holland Park Rd, London 

  • Meetings in Marrakech: the paintings of Hassan El Glaoui and Winston Churchill
  • NEW Exhibition at Leighton House Museum, Holland Park Road, London W14 8LZ. 20 January – 31 March 2012
  • First time the paintings of Winston Churchill have been exhibited with another artist
  • Exhibition of 24 paintings unveils the unique and binding relationship of two men from different worlds who shared a common love for Morocco and painting.

A fascinating new exhibition at Leighton House, Holland Park Road, brings together for the first time a unique collection of work by two painters from two radically different cultures: Sir Winston Churchill and Hassan El Glaoui.

Nine of the 24 paintings on display are by Churchill, while many of the 15 El Glaoui paintings in the exhibition have never been on show in the UK before. It will also be the first time the paintings of Churchill have been publically exhibited alongside another artist’s work. The exhibition opens to the public on 20 January 2012 and runs until 31 March 2012.

Churchill and El Glaoui’s bond is unique: it was only through Churchill’s intervention that Hassan El Glaoui, the young Berber tribesman, was permitted to pursue professionally his passion for painting. Hassan El Glaoui, the son of the Pasha of Marrakech, Hadj Thami El Glaoui – also known as the Black Panther – was born into one of the oldest Berber families in Morocco, who for generations were considered the most fearless warriors of the Atlas region. Against his father’s wishes, Hassan chose to follow an artistic path and become a painter – something that was at the time considered highly unsuitable for a Berber tribesman.

During a trip to Marrakech, while visiting the Glaoui Family in 1943, Winston Churchill was shown some paintings by the young Hassan El Glaoui, and seeing the high quality of the work insisted to his father, his old friend the Pasha of Marrakech, that he be allowed to pursue his passion for painting. It was at Churchill’s behest that El Glaoui was allowed to continue to paint, and in doing so set El Glaoui on the path to becoming one of Morocco’s most significant artists, who’s work today is among the most sought after contemporary North African art in the world.

Sir Winston Churchill first visited the Moroccan city of Marrakech in 1935. He would develop a lasting affection for the city, which Churchill considered “one of the loveliest spots in the whole world”, and would paint the city many times.

Now for the first time El Glaoui and Churchill’s paintings are brought together, revealing surprising similarities between these two men. El Glaoui’s depictions of warriors riding on horseback into battle, such as those shown in this exhibition, would have been familiar to Churchill, who was part of the cavalry engaged in the Battle of Omdurman in 1898. Churchill often gave his paintings as gifts to visiting Statesmen, such as President Franklin D. Roosevelt. El Glaoui’s work has been presented by the King of Morocco to visiting dignitaries and statesmen such as George Bush and Jacques Chirac.

Daniel Robbins, Director of Leighton House Museum said: “We are extremely fortunate to have these unique collections here at Leighton House, not only because they are outstanding paintings from a beautiful part of North West Africa, but because they tell such a remarkable story. They reveal both a hitherto unseen glimpse into the private and artistic life of one of Britain’s most significant figures, Winston Churchill, and the beautifully expressive work of one of Morocco’s most significant painters, Hassan El Glaoui”.

Hassan El Glaoui said: “Painting has always been my life – it is unthinkable to me not to paint. However I often realise that without that fateful meeting with Winston Churchill in 1943 my parent’s attitude to me painting might have prevented me enjoying such a wonderful and fulfilling life as an artist.

It is a wonderful privilege to share this exhibition with the work of a man who not only is so historically significant, but with whom I share such a profound personal significance with as well”.

Celia Sandys, Granddaughter of Winston Churchill said: “I hope that my grandfather is smiling down on this exhibition. He would have liked the idea of the paintings which gave him so much pleasure, in a country that he loved so much, hanging side by side with those by Hassan El Glaoui, the son of his old friend the Pasha of Marrakech.”

The private view for Meetings in Marrakech: the paintings of Hassan El Glaoui and Winston Churchill takes place on 19 January in the intimate surrounds of Leighton House – an international symbol of East meeting West. The exhibition, which includes previously unseen work by both artists opens to the public 20 January and runs until 30 March.

Follow this link for the full press release. 

For more information and photos, visit the Culture 24 website.
Meetings in Marrakech – the Paintings of Winston Churchill and Hassan El Glaoui at Leighton House | Culture24 

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