May 18, 2024

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A painting of Winston Churchill by an artist whose work he hated is up for auction

A painting of Winston Churchill by an artist whose work he hated is up for auction

LONDON (AP) — A portrait of Winston Churchill, painted by an artist whose work the British leader disliked, went on display Tuesday in Churchill's birthplace before it goes up for auction in June.

The painting by modernist artist Graham Sutherland was created in preparation for a larger portrait which Churchill hated and was later destroyed – an episode recounted in the TV series The Crown.

The surviving oil-on-canvas study shows Churchill's head in profile against a dark background. It is expected to sell for between £500,000 and £800,000 ($622,000-$995,000) at Sotheby's in London on June 6.

Sutherland was commissioned by the Houses of Parliament to paint Churchill on the occasion of his 80th birthday in 1954. The full portrait was unveiled in Parliament that year, with Churchill describing it, with a smirk, as “a fine example of modern art”.

Churchill is said to have complained that the painting “makes me look half-intelligent, which I am not.” He was delivered to his home and was never seen again. Years later, the Churchill family revealed its destruction.

Her fate was recreated with poetic license in an episode of The Crown in which Churchill's wife, Clementine, watched the painting go up in flames.

In the surviving study, “Churchill was caught in a moment of absent-minded thought, and with the backstory of his creation, he gives the impression of a genuinely concerned man,” said Andre Zlatinger, head of Sotheby's Modern British and Irish Art Department. With his picture.”

Sotheby's displayed the photo to the public inside the room where Churchill was born 150 years ago at Blenheim Palace, a country palace located 60 miles (100 kilometers) northwest of London. Visitors can see him there until Sunday. It will be on display at Sotheby's offices in New York from May 3 to 16 and in London from May 25 to June 5.

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