It would seem that there is a new fashion for the paintings of World War II political ‘hobbyists’. First we had a century old painting by Adolf Hitler that was auctioned off at the Weidler auction house in Nuremberg last month. The work went under the hammer for €130,000, or £102,000; and now it is the turn of the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
It would seem that Churchill had another talent, and one that unsurprisingly was greater than Adolf’s: as the great British War Prime Minister’s artistic prowess is being recognised anew, in the form of a record-breaking £1,762,500, or $2.76 million auction sale. The painting was included in yesterday’s Sotheby’s sale of the personal possessions of the former Prime Minister’s last surviving child, Mary Soames, who died in May of this year.
Prior to the auction, the previous record for a Churchill painting was £1 million or $1.57 million, which was set at Sotheby’s in 2007 for the work ‘Chartwell Landscape with Sheep’. Now the world leader’s 1932 canvas ‘The Goldfish Pool at Chartwell’, which carried a pre-sale estimate of £400,000 to 600,000 or $626,000 to 939,000, with five prospective buyers eagerly raising paddles, the price quickly escalated, smashing the earlier record for a Churchill work.
Churchill only started painting at the age of 40, but had the advantage of studying under professional artists, including his friends, Irish portraitist John Lavery, and British artist William Nicholson. Churchill was in fact a prolific painter for a somewhat ‘busy’ political leader, completing over 500 oil paintings in his lifetime. He is just one of a number of politicians who have taken up painting including former U.S. President George W. Bush, who continues to make headlines for his new-found love of painting, even though – or perhaps because – he is terrible at it.
The painting by Churchill depicts the water gardens at the Prime Minister’s home in Chartwell, which he helped plant. Of all his works, Churchill’s English paintings are the most popular. The sale includes 14 other of his works, including two other paintings of Chartwell. Tapestries at Blenheim also improved upon the 2007 record, fetching an impressive £1,082,500 or $1.7 million compared to an estimate of £200,000 to 300,000 or $314,00 to 470,000.