How this Portrait of Sir Winston Churchill Avoided Destruction

London | 6 June 2024

Winston Churchill was one of the 20th century’s most consequential figures. As a result of his remarkable political career and wartime leadership he also became one of its most reproduced characters; he has in fact been described by the curators of the National Portrait Gallery in London as ‘the most famous face of the twentieth century’. Painters, satirists, photographers were all drawn to his celebrity and presence, and their output was produced to different effect and with a variety of functions through different periods of his life and career.

In celebration of Churchill's 80th birthday, the Houses of Parliament issued formal gifts, one of which was a commissioned portrait to be painted by Modern British artist, Graham Sutherland. Ultimately the final portrait was destroyed but one of Sutherland's studies for this commission survived, and portrays a rather different Churchill which features as the start of the Modern British & Irish Art Evening Auction taking place at Sotheby's London on 6 June.

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