A previously unseen version of a portrait of Winston Churchill is going to be put up for auction (2 photos)

22 April 2024

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was not only an outstanding politician, but also a very good artist. Therefore, he loved and appreciated art. But not when it comes to his portraits! He simply couldn't stand them. If you've read his biography (or watched The Crown), you'll remember how he freaked out when he was given a commemorative portrait by artist Graham Sutherland, commissioned by the British Parliament, for his 80th birthday in 1954. To say that he didn't like it would be an understatement. However... out of nowhere a very rare portrait of Churchill appeared, which could be a sketch of that very first portrait. It’s quite possible that he didn’t even see him. One way or another, experts at the Sotheby's auction house put the painting up for auction. They plan to sell it for 800 thousand pounds sterling!

This is the portrait Winston Churchill received for his 80th birthday. He hated it because it made him look “drunk as hell.” This is how the Prime Minister himself put it. He posed for the artist Graham Sutherland in several passes and wanted to look noble in the portrait. Churchill also saw some early sketches of the sitter's work, which he liked, but the final result angered him greatly. At the same time, the portrait was solemnly presented to the politician at the Palace of Westminster.

I look like a drunk who's been pulled out of a ditch in the Strand.

As a result, at Winston’s urgent request, the portrait was first hidden from the whole world in the basement, and then burned (although there is a theory that it was not). Art critics consider the painting extremely successful, which is why the destruction of Sutherland’s “Portrait of Winston Churchill” is perceived as a tragedy of British painting.

But there was another, earlier version of the portrait, which will now be sold at auction. Here she is!

Here Churchill is depicted looking out of the window and dictating a letter. Andre Zlattinger, a Sotheby's expert, suggested that Churchill "quite possibly" would have preferred this rough sketch to the final portrait. Although, as we can see, the topic of clinical alcoholism is covered here no less, if not more.

This version of the portrait will now be sold on June 6, 2024. The sale is timed to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the birth of the legendary Briton.

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