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Sir Winston Churchill OM by Ernest Wallcousins

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Sir Winston Churchill OM by Ernest Wallcousins

- Item No.

Monumental in size, this impressive portrait depicts the celebrated Prime Minister Winston Churchill

Key Features

  • This very important portrait depicts the great war leader Winston Churchill
  • The monumental work is the largest Churchill portrait to ever come on the market
  • Painted by Ernest Wallcousins, this work is one of the few for which Churchill ever sat
  • The impressive painting is pictured in The Victory Book, published in 1946 by Odhams Press
  • Infused with symbolism, this rare portrait is a true masterpiece of one of the world's great leaders
  • Oil on canvas, circa 1945
  • Canvas: 54 high x 35 wide; Frame: 61 1/4 high x 42 wide

Item Details

  • Width:
    F: 42; C: 35 Inches
  • Height:
    F: 61 1/4; C: 54 Inches
  • Period:
    20th Century
  • Origin:
  • Subject:
Ernest Wallcousins
1883-1976 British

Sir Winston Churchill, OM

Oil on Canvas

"My dear friends, this is your hour." These were Winston Churchill's words as he spoke on the evening of the Allied victory in Europe, and so ended the Second World War. A man of undeniable strength and resilience, Winston Churchill stands as one of the greatest leaders of the modern world. This important portrait, one of the few that Churchill ever sat for, masterfully captures the man's irrepressible air of determination and indomitable character. Portraits of the wartime hero are in high demand, and one of smaller size recently brought over $2.2 million at a December 2014 Sotheby's auction. Monumental in size, this work is the largest Churchill portrait to ever be offered on the market, and it stands in awesome tribute to one of the greatest wartime heroes in history.

The work, painted by the renowned British artist and illustrator Ernest Wallcousins, was a special commission from Odhams Press for the Victory Book published in 1946. The portrait is printed alongside Churchill's infamous broadcast on Tuesday, May 8, 1945, in which he proclaimed to the world the end of the war. Indeed, the portrait itself exudes a steely determination that matches these words. In it, he stands stoically with a resolute expression, his gaze directly engaging the viewer. He seems to loom over Mercator's map of the world, which lies on the table in front of him, symbolizing his vital leadership and strategic planning that led to the Allied victory.

Lining the wall behind the imposing figure are volumes upon volumes of books, suggesting his penchant for writing and literature. As the only British Prime Minister to have ever won the Nobel Prize in Literature, Churchill's placement in front of these volumes seems particularly apt. 

Significantly, the tabletop statue of St. George Slaying the Dragon does not appear in the printed version of the painting; this was likely later added by the artist. So cherished was this work by Wallcousins that it remained in his possession through his entire lifetime, only being placed on the market in the 1980s after the death of his widow. The later addition of the statue, therefore, is quite probable, and a number of different theories exist as to its symbolism. While it may simply represent the Allied Victory of good over evil, it may also be emblematic of the alliance between Great Britain and Russia during the war. Another theory claims it was added in commemoration of the 1953 Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, to which Sir Winston wore the insignia of the 'Great George' in deference to his aristocratic ancestor, John Churchill the 1st Duke of Marlborough.

The artist, Ernest Wallcousins, was renowned primarily for his work as an illustrator, though he did work across a wide range of media. Wallcousins is remembered as the designer of the Royal Souvenir Programme for the ill-fated Coronation of Edward VII in 1935. It was in 1945 that Wallcousins painted this magnificent portrait, from life, of the wartime Prime Minster celebrating the Allied victories. His works can be found in the Science Museum in London and Southend Museum and Art Gallery.

Circa 1945

Canvas: 54" high x 35" wide
Frame: 61 1/4" high x 42" wideProvenance:
Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Wallcousins;
 Private Collection, UK;
MacConnal-Mason Gallery, London;
Private Collection, USA

The Victory Book, 1945, Odhams Press
Painting by William Bouguereau

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Price: $228,500
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