A picture of a bottle of Johnnie Walker painted by Sir Winston Churchill in the ’30s has been sold by Sotheby’s in London for £983,000 (US$1.2 million). This is one of the most expensive of Churchill’s paintings ever sold.
The painting was sold at a Modern & Post-War British Art sale held on November 12. It is titled Jugs and Bottles and was painted by the British statesman in his home in Kent. It depicts quite clearly a bottle of Johnny Walker Black Label, one of his drinks of choice, and an undefined bottle.
Churchill took up painting as a hobby in the first decade of the 20th century. This was at a time when he was consumed with anxiety, following a First World War debacle that forced him to resign from his government post. In the ’20s, he even wrote a small book titled Painting as a Pastime, where he stated: “Painting came to my rescue in a most trying time.” It is believed that in his life, he created over 550 paintings.
Reportedly, Churchill made a gift of the painting to a U.S. diplomat named Averell Harriman in the ’40s. Harriman had an affair with Churchill’s daughter-in-law, Pamela, during the war and went on to marry her in 1971.
Aside from painting, Churchill was, of course, a world-renowned writer, as his famed speeches testify. “With painting, Churchill was forever the keen student, whereas with words, he was always the master,” Chartwell collections manager Katherine Carter once said.