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Portrait of Sir Winston Churchill, half length, wearing a siren suit
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À propos de l'objet

'He [Churchill] looks tranquil and benign and, as such, very much reflected her [Mary's] image of her father' (Emma Soames, 2014) Churchill was one of the most photographed and painted figures of the twentieth century. Portraits by the leading artists of the day, including Lavery, Orpen and Sickert, have been so often reproduced that Churchill’s face as the pugnacious politician has come to be instantly recognizable. Sir Oswald Birley, on the other hand, chose to portray in this work, a more reflective side of Churchill in his seventy-seventh year. The portrayal is no less impressive or formidable, the keen intelligence and indomitable personality clear, but Birley has captured a certain serene dignity and tenderness as Churchill sits informally, tie removed wearing his signature siren suit. These suits were modelled on the boiler suits Churchill wore to lay bricks and he wore them casually both at Chartwell and at Chequers. This portrait was Lady Soames’s favoured painting of her father - her daughter Emma recently recalled: 'In a very prominent spot behind my mother's armchair hung her favourite portrait of her father, painted by Oswald Birley when Churchill was in his seventies. It is easy to understand why she loved it so much. He looks tranquil and benign and, as such, very much reflected her image of her father’ (Emma Soames, 2014).\nBirley first painted Churchill in June 1946 as a commission by the Speaker of the House of Commons to be hung at his residence at the Palace of Westminster. Churchill could be notoriously difficult about not just having his photo taken, but also sitting patiently for portraits, and Mary Soames recollects a tricky beginning to the sittings for the portrait which took place at Chartwell in the studio: ‘The relationship got off to a rather sticky start because Winston became awkward and did not want to be distracted from his own ploys… I was deputed to look after Captain Birley  and “organise” my father and the sittings.  There is a rather fussed entry in my diary for 14 June 1946: “I have spent today chasing Papa to sit for Mr B. – entertaining Mr B, and cooking …” Of course I lacked both my mother’s status and her courage – eventually, however, the sittings started, Oswald Birley’s quiet charm and my father’s respect for an artist soon melted away any difficulties, and I recorded with relief: “Found Mr B and Papa well-pleased with each other and the portrait.” And the following day: “Papa sat goodly all day”’ (Mary Soames, Winston Churchill His Life as a Painter, London, Collins, 1990, p.152). Churchill would dictate to his secratary during the sittings which usually lasted for two hours. This 1946 portrait remains in the collection of the Houses of Parliament and Birley went on to paint at least four further paintings of Churchill, one of which is the present work painted in 1950, a couple of years before Birley died.\nSigned and dated 1951
GB
GB
GB

notes

Please note the present work is dated 1951, and not as stated in the printed catalogue.

medium

Oil on canvas

creator

Oswald Birley

condition

Original canvas. There are pinholes visible in all four corners. There is minor canvas undulation in the lower left. There are frame abrasions visible at the extreme edges, most prominently down the right vertical edge, and the lower right corner. There is a slight abrasion to the right of the signature in the upper left of the composition. On close examination there is evidence of light surface dirt and matter, with further light traces of studio detritus. This excepting the work appears to be in very good condition. Ultraviolet light reveals traces of florescence and possible retouching at the upper right edge and to the right of the signature, to the a fore mentioned scuff, with a few further spots appearing to the subjects collar, neck and right ear, these have all be very sensitively executed. The painting is presented in an ornate gilt frame. Please contact 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. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."

dimensions

76 by 63.5cm.; 30 by 25in.

signedDate

Signed and dated 1951

creator_nationality_dates

1880-1952


*Merci de noter que le prix n'est pas recalculé à la valeur actuelle, mais se rapporte au prix final réel au moment où l'objet a été vendu.

*Merci de noter que le prix n'est pas recalculé à la valeur actuelle, mais se rapporte au prix final réel au moment où l'objet a été vendu.


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