£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.
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Finest Hour 172, Spring 2016
Ian Kershaw, To Hell and Back: Europe 1914–1949, Viking, 2015, 593 pages, $35.00. ISBN: 978-0670024582.
Review by Kevin Matthews
A young Winston Churchill wrote in 1901: “The wars of peoples will be more terrible than those of kings.” The next fifty years proved he was right, and it is fitting that Ian Kershaw opens his history of twentieth-century Europe with Churchill’s prediction. The first of a projected two–volume work, this book, like the years it covers, is dominated by war, a period when Europeans sank “into the pit of barbarism” (1).
Readers of Finest Hour may be disappointed that Churchill plays only a walk-on role here and there in Kershaw’s account of these events. To Hell and Back is part of a trend that has refocused the telling of these years on central and eastern Europe, what he calls the continent’s “killing grounds” (19). Even so, most will find it a worthy addition to their bookshelves.
In many ways, To Hell and Back echoes the observation made by Churchill long ago that, between 1914 and 1945, Europeans waged a second Thirty Years’ War. Others call it a “European Civil War,” an ideological struggle between liberal democracy, Soviet-style communism, and fascism in which, until the very end, it looked as if liberal democracy would come out the loser. Kershaw’s contribution is in the way he constructs this story. In this telling, Europe’s near- suicide can be explained by four inter-related causes: “an explosion of ethnic-racist nationalism,” “bitter and irreconcilable demands for territorial revisionism,” “acute class conflict” further inflamed by Russia’s Bolshevik Revolution, Read More >
Finest Hour 171, Winter 2016
Review by Peter Clarke
David Lough, No More Champagne: Churchill and His Money, New York: Picador, 2015, 534 pages, $32.
The Churchill archive is much like that of other politicians— only more so. And the political part of his papers has accordingly been deeply mined by historians. Beyond this, however, is what we could call the hidden archive—not because the archive staff hid it away but because researchers generally ignored it. I am referring especially to the holdings of literary papers that testify to Churchill’s other career as an author and to the mass of business correspondence, financial documents, bank statements, tax files, household bills, and other kinds of paperwork. Because Churchill came from a class that was accustomed to hoard such papers along with their correspondence, virtually nothing was ever thrown away, and the Churchill Archives Centre has likewise respected the intrinsic interest for historians in having this sort of material available.
In recent years, moreover, there have been a number of books that explored this hidden territory. David Reynolds’ In Command of History: Churchill Fighting and Writing the Second World War (2004) illuminated the financial implications of how this particular author operated. This prompted me to follow up on the story by putting Churchill’s composition of his History of the English-Speaking Peoples at the heart of my book, Mr. Churchill’s Profession (2012). So I happily declare an interest in commenting on David Lough’s welcome addition to the literature in his meticulously documented book, No More Champagne. Its eighty pages of references are overwhelmingly to materials held in the “hidden archive,” the holdings of which are now further exposed in the light of history.
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