Lot 9
  • 9

Sir Winston Churchill, K.G., O.M., F.R.S., HON. R.A.

100,000 - 150,000 GBP
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • Sir Winston Churchill, K.G., O.M., F.R.S., HON. R.A.
  • Les Zoraïdes on Cap Martin
  • signed with initials 
  • oil on canvas
  • 51 by 61cm.; 20 by 24in.
  • Executed in 1935.


Lady Birley
Sale, Christie's London, 13th October 1980, lot 280, where acquired by Thomas J. Perkins


Kansas City, The Nelson Gallery, Winston Churchill the Painter, 1958, with tour to Detroit, New York, Washington, Providence, Dallas, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Toronto, Montreal, Fredericton, Vancouver, Canberra, Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Hobart, Adelaide, and Perth;
London, Royal Academy of Arts Diploma Gallery, Winston Churchill Honorary Academician Extraordinary, 1959;
New York, World's Fair, 1965.


David Coombs, Churchill: His Paintings, The World Publishing Company, Cleveland and New York, 1967, cat. no.351, illustrated p.214;
David Coombs and Minnie S. Churchill, Sir Winston Churchill's Life Through His Paintings, Chaucer Press, London, 2003, cat. no.C351, illustrated p.178;
David Coombs and Minnie S. Churchill, Sir Winston Churchill His Life and His Paintings, Ware House Publishing, Lyme Regis, 2011, cat. no.C351, illustrated p.178.


The canvas appears sound. There is a very minor push to the centre of the composition. There is a pinhole apparent in the lower left corner, possibly in keeping with the Artist's techniques. There are a few tiny specks of loss in the upper left corner, only visible upon very close inspection, which may relate to Artist's pinholes. There are some very fine lines of craquelure in some isolated places, most apparent to the turquoise pigment in the right of centre and the light green pigment in the upper right corner with a few further isolated lines elsewhere. There is some studio detritus and some specks of light surface dirt and specks of staining in places to the work. Subject to the above the work appears to be in very good overall condition. Inspection under UV light reveals some fluorescence which is thought to be in keeping with the Artist's materials, as well as an uneven layer of varnish. The work is presented in a gilt frame. Please telephone the department on +44 (0) 207 293 6424 if you have any questions regarding the present work.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

We are grateful to David Coombs for his kind assistance with the cataloguing of the present work.

‘…let me say a word on painting as a spur to travel. There is really nothing like it… Every country where the sun shines and every district in it, has a theme of its own… the painter wanders and loiters contentedly from place to place, always on the look out for some brilliant butterfly of a picture which can be caught and set up and carried safely home’ (The Artist, 1921, quoted in David Coombs and Minnie S. Churchill, Sir Winston Churchill’s His Life and His Paintings, Ware House Publishing, Lyme Regis, 2011, p. 86).

Despite his political life and significant literary commitments, Churchill was an inveterate traveller and would take his paints, brushes and easels wherever he went. The south of France and the Riviera in particular had an immense appeal to Churchill. The Churchills were strong Francophiles: Clementine spent many years of her childhood in Dieppe and both had several friends who lived across the country.

In 1920, after selling Lullenden, his country retreat in Sussex, Churchill began work on his war memoirs and spent considerable time abroad painting. He appears to have made painting trips to the south of France with the artist Sir John Lavery that summer and again in 1921. In 1922, Winston and Clementine took their family to the Riviera where they rented the villa Rêve d'Or for six months. From this point, Churchill’s love affair with the South of France began. Drawn by good weather and inspired by the landscape, Churchill would return on numerous occasions often without Clementine who did not feel comfortable with the Riviera life.

Churchill would often stay with friends or family during his travels along the coast, and the present work depicts Les Zoraïdes on Cap Martin, the Riviera villa owned by Daisy Fellowes, who was married to Churchill’s cousin Reginald. He was also a frequent guest at la Dragonniere and around the time the present work was painted, Winston paid his first visit to Chateau de l'Horizon at Golfe-Juan near Cannes, the newly completed home of Maxine Elliot. Maxine was an immensely successful American actress who had been friends with Churchill's mother. Her niece, Diana Forbes-Robertson, remembers that Churchill '...towered above the other familiars of the Chateau who came and went. He was the only person permitted to be late for meals, and the only one who could leave the Chateau to paint at Saint Paul de Vence all day without being scolded as a "gadabout".' (Forbes-Robertson, quoted in Coombs, 2011, op.cit, p.145)

In the present work, Churchill adopts an especially interesting viewpoint which emphasizes the glistening reflection and refraction of light across the water warmed by the Mediterranean sun. The fluid impasto and scintillating colour combinations that highlight the rhythmic movement of the water literally reverberate across the picture plane and clearly demonstrate the lessons he had learnt from what he called 'the modern French School...disciples of Cézanne'. He wrote in 1921 that, 'they view Nature as a mass of shimmering light in which forms and surfaces are comparatively unimportant, indeed hardly visible, but which gleams and glows with beautiful harmonies and contrasts of colour...I had hitherto painted the sea flat, with long, smooth strokes of mixed pigment in which the tints varied only by gradations. Now I must try to represent it by innumerable small separate lozenge-shaped points and patches of colour – often pure colour – so that it looked more like a tessellated pavement that a marine picture...' (the Artist, 1921, quoted in Coombs, 2011, op. cit., p.71, 73).