£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.
Philipp Gut, Champagner mit Churchill: Der Zürcher Farbenfabrikant Willy Sax und der malende Premierminister, Stämpfli Verlag, 2015, 176 pages, €39.00. ISBN 978–3727214554
Review by Werner Vogt
Werner Vogt is the author of Winston Churchill und die Schweiz reviewed in FH 173.
When Winston Churchill visited Switzerland in the summer of 1946, various remarkable things happened. With his “Let Europe Arise” speech, addressed to the academic youth of the world and delivered at the University of Zurich [see FH 173], the wartime Prime Minister and then Leader of the Opposition confirmed his position as a leader of thought. On the same day, Churchill invited Willy Sax to his hotel for a drink before dinner. Here was conversation more to Churchill’s liking, for Sax was the Swiss owner of the small paint factory that supplied Churchill’s needs. Churchill recognised that Sax had not only an excellent knowledge about the composition of his paints but also about mixing and painting techniques.
Out of this informal conversation developed a friendship that lasted nearly twenty years; Sax died less than a year before Churchill. Philipp Gut, who is a deputy editor of the staunchly Conservative magazine Die Weltwoche and a historian by training, gives a detailed account of Sax’s numerous journeys to Chartwell as well as to the South of France, whither Sax was repeatedly invited when Churchill went there for painting holidays.
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 >
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. Read More >
Join or Renew NowPlease join with us to help preserve the memory of Winston Churchill and continue to explore how his life, experiences and leadership are ever-more relevant in today’s chaotic world. BENEFITS >BECOME A MEMBER >
Finest Hour Image
The most recent issues of Finest Hour are available online to members. Join to automatically receive a subscription to BOTH Finest Hour and the Churchill Bulletin.LEARN MORE >VISIT FINEST HOUR ARCHIVE >
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.