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The Portrait That Enraged Churchill Now Up for Auction

Daniel Kim Views  

영국 화가 그레이엄 서덜랜드가 그린 윈스턴 처칠 초상화 습작. 사진=소더비
A portrait sketch of Winston Churchill by British artist Graham Sutherland.

A portrait sketch of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, which he famously burnt in a fit of rage, calling it “horrible and malicious,” is about to go up for auction.

According to The Guardian and other UK media outlets, on the 16th (local time), the sketch by British painter Graham Sutherland will be auctioned off at Sotheby’s in London on June 6. The auction house’s expected winning bid is $696,000 to $1.1 million.

The British Parliament commissioned the portrait from Sutherland, a renowned painter of the time, in November 1954 to commemorate Churchill’s 80th birthday. Sutherland worked for several months at Churchill’s residence, creating numerous sketches and oil drafts for the final piece, one of which is the sketch appearing in this auction.

Sutherland and Churchill first met when the portrait was commissioned. At the time, Churchill famously asked Sutherland, “How will you paint me, as an angel or a bulldog?” The latter, bulldog, was a nickname given to Churchill due to his appearance and temperament. Sutherland responded, “It depends on the image you present,” and it is said that Churchill consistently presented himself as a bulldog.

During the creation process, Churchill repeatedly requested to see the portrait but was continually denied by Sutherland. Despite this, the two became friends. However, when the eagerly anticipated artwork was completed, Churchill was reportedly distraught after seeing the final piece, which depicted him as depressed and aging.

Churchill did not like the portrait then and threatened Sutherland that he would not attend the unveiling ceremony. He eventually participated, but he sarcastically called the portrait “a remarkable example of modern art” in front of the members of Parliament.

The portrait, originally intended to be hung in Parliament, was moved to the basement of Churchill’s residence due to his fury. The secretary’s sibling later took it into the garden in the middle of the night and burned it in front of Churchill’s wife, Clementine.

The sketch up for auction was given by Sutherland to art critic Alfred Hecht. Hecht kept it before passing it on to its current owner. It has not been confirmed whether Churchill ever saw this sketch during his lifetime.

Before the auction in June, the sketch will be displayed at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, famously known as Churchill’s birthplace.

Daniel Kim
content@viewusglobal.com

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