£100,000? £250,000? £700,000? £1 million? Churchill’s paintings can now command a considerable sale price, particularly if they have impeccable provenance (as in the case of the painting given to Truman). The Truman gift, ‘Marrakech’, (according to the auction house, Sotheby’s, ‘arguably superior’ to ‘View of Tinherir’ ‘in both composition and provenance’) was sold in December 2007 with a guide price of £300, 000–£500,000, achieving £468,700.
At the time of the sale, the Sotheby’s specialist in twentieth century British art said: ‘The rise of Churchill through the art market over the past few years has been remarkable and we are thrilled to be bringing another of his most important and accomplished works to the saleroom at a time when interest in his amazing ‘pastime’ is stronger than ever … ‘Marrakech’ … is a superb example of Churchill at his very best’ (Art Daily). (The less ‘superior’ painting entitled ‘View of Tinherir’ given by Churchill in 1953 as a gift to US General George Marshall, was sold at auction in 2006 by his granddaughter, for £612,800. It had been expected to fetch about £250,000.) A July 2007 auction saw a record £1,000,000 for a Churchill painting, ‘Chartwell Landscape with Sheep’, originally presented to Clare Booth Luce.
Churchill Archives Centre, The Nemon Papers, NEMO 4/3b
In 1940, Churchill was worried that the Chambers might be bombed while the Houses were ‘sitting’ and between 1940 and 1941, both Houses of Parliament took place in Church House in Westminster. And in fact, during the Second World War, the Palace of Westminster was damaged by air raids on fourteen different occasions.
The incendiary bombs which fell on the nights of 10 and 11 May 1941 caused the most damage. The Commons Chamber was bombed and the roof of Westminster Hall was set on fire. The fire service said it’d be impossible to save both, so it was decided to concentrate on saving the Hall. The Commons Chamber was entirely destroyed by the bomb and resulting fire which spread to the Members’ Lobby and caused the ceiling to collapse. By the following morning, all that was left of the Chamber was a smoking shell.
When Churchill was eighty-eight he was asked by the Duke of Edinburgh how he’d like to be remembered. He reportedly replied that he’d like a scholarship named after him, like the Rhodes Scholarship but for the wider masses.
To get young Americans studying at the new Churchill College, Cambridge, a Foundation was created as a vehicle for the Churchill Scholarship in July 1959 (in fact, the Foundation predates the Royal Charter for Churchill College and has been a steady companion of the College from its creation). Now called the Winston Churchill Foundation of the US, it’s a reminder of Anglo–US cooperation and friendship. It ‘honours Churchill’s name not by looking back at his past but by looking to the future of science and technology as drivers of global security and economic development’ (Winston Churchill Foundation of the US).
Churchill died in 1965 and yet his name – and his legacy – lives on, in the educational organisations that he established in his lifetime and in the initiatives set up after his death, to promote excellence, innovation and leadership in education and research in science, technology, health and welfare and the arts. Churchill cared passionately about the future of his country and believed strongly in the importance of education and research in securing success and leadership in the years ahead.
The privilege of a university education is a great one; the more widely it is extended the better for any country.
Churchill, 12 May 1948, University of Oslo
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The International Churchill Society (ICS), founded in 1968 shortly after Churchill's death, is the world’s preeminent member organisation dedicated to preserving the historic legacy of Sir Winston Churchill.
At a time when leadership is challenged at every turn, that legacy looms larger and remains more relevant than ever.