20/21 British Art Fair To Present Newly-Discovered Portrait Of Winston Churchill

A newly-discovered portrait of Sir Winston Churchill by Walter Sickert (1860-1942) is set to attract international attention when it goes on display for the first time at The 20/21 British Art Fair at The Royal College of Art, London SW7, from 9 – 13 September 2015.

Priced at £50,000, this important work of art is for sale from The Court Gallery from West Quantoxhead, Somerset. Court Gallery director Denys Wilcox describes it as a very historic work that has come on the market for the first time, having originated by descent from the private collection of Paul Maze, the artist and friend of Churchill.

Fair Organiser Gay Hutson said: ‘We are very excited to be unveiling this most important portrait, particularly at a time when interest in Churchill’s life and achievements has never been higher. Andrew Marr’s recent programme, ‘Blood, Sweat and Oil Paint’ (BBC Four) examined Churchill’s great passion for art and highlighted how strong an influence Walter Sicket had been on his work. This portrait offers a rare opportunity for someone to acquire an historic painting of an internationally famous figure by one of the 20th century’s great artists’.

The oil painting on canvas, which measures 28 x 20 inches, is described by the renowned art historian Dr Wendy Baron as a free sketch made from life, and used as the source document for the smaller, better known, finished work that hangs in the National Portrait Gallery. It also differs markedly from the preparatory sketches for the finished work but has all the hallmarks of Sicket’s distinctive style.

The artist was a friend of Churchill, helped him in his own painting and had ample opportunity to paint such a study when he stayed with Churchill, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, at Chartwell in September 1927. The pattern of lights and darks is almost identical in this sketch and the final work. By reducing the size of the canvas and making minor adjustments of format, Sickert brought Churchill’s head into more immediate and arresting focus. Churchill’s wife Clementine introduced him to Sickert, who had been a friend of her family. The two men got along so well that Churchill, whose hobby was painting, wrote to his wife that “He is really giving me a new lease of life as a painter.”

Walter Richard Sickert (31 May 1860 – 22 January 1942) was born in Munich, Germany. He was a painter and printmaker who was a member of the Camden Town Group in London and an important influence on British styles of avant-garde art in the 20th century. Sickert was a cosmopolitan and eccentric who often favoured ordinary people and urban scenes as his subjects. He is considered a prominent figure in the transition from Impressionism to Modernism.

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