18 April, 17:00

From the fire to the auction: a sketch of a burnt portrait of Churchill is on display at Sotheby's

From the fire to the auction: a sketch of a burnt portrait of Churchill is on display at Sotheby's
The history of art is often intertwined with the stories of great personalities who become objects of artistic embodiment. However, sometimes this embodiment causes unexpected reactions, as in the case of the portrait of Winston Churchill. The Prime Minister of Great Britain did not like the artist's work so much that it was burned. Currently, the price of a portrait sketch exhibited at Sotheby's can reach $1 million. 

This story begins in 1954, when the Parliament of Great Britain commissioned a portrait of Winston Churchill for his 80th birthday. Leading artist Graham Sutherland, known for his harsh realist views, received the commission. 
However, during the creation of the picture, Sutherland faced numerous difficulties. The prime minister hardly posed because of his busy schedule, but he tried to constantly monitor the artist's work. As a result, an elderly tired politician appeared on the canvas, which became the cause of Churchill's extreme dissatisfaction. He believed that he looked like a "clinical alcoholic" in the portrait.

The prime minister refused to present the painting in parliament and publicly ridiculed it, sarcastically calling it "a wonderful example of modern art." After that, the canvas was sent to Churchill's country house, where it was burned with the permission of his wife, Clementine. 

And now, many years later, despite the fact that the portrait was destroyed, its story is again in the first art history columns. 


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