Was Winston Churchill a Painter?

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.

Leave a Reply