by Graham Vivian Sutherland
oil on canvas, 1954
13 5/8 in. x 12 1/4 in. (345 mm x 311 mm)
Given by the artist's widow, Mrs Graham Sutherland, 1980
Click on the links below to find out more:
Sitterback to top
- Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill (1874-1965), Prime Minister. Sitter in 212 portraits.
Artistback to top
- Graham Vivian Sutherland (1903-1980), Painter. Artist associated with 23 portraits, Sitter in 61 portraits.
This portraitback to top
One of a number of studies for a portrait commissioned by past and present members of the House of Commons and House of Lords to mark Churchill's eightieth birthday. It was Sutherland's custom to prepare detailed, almost independent 'finished' works, close-up studies of the heads of his sitters. For Churchill there are many, as Sutherland grappled with the problems of describing one of the legendary hero-figures of the twentieth century. Churchill had asked at the outset 'How are you going to paint me? As a cherub, or the Bulldog?', to which Sutherland replied 'it entirely depends on what you show me, sir'. As Sutherland later told Lord Beaverbrook, 'Consistently… he showed me the Bull Dog'. The final controversial portrait, which Churchill said made him look 'half-witted', was later destroyed by his wife and only preparatory sketches survive.
Linked publicationsback to top
- Cooper, John, Great Britons: The Great Debate, 2002, p. 136
- Parris, Matthew, Heroes and Villains: Scarfe at the National Portrait Gallery, 2003 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 30 September 2003 to 4 April 2004), p. 54
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 124
Events of 1954back to top
Current affairsRoger Bannister runs the four-minute mile. Bannister was the first man to achieve the 'miracle mile', a feat that was thought by some to be impossible, beating his rival, the Australian John Landy, to the record. Bannister went on to a career as a distinguished neurologist.
Food rationing ends in Britain.
Art and scienceJ.R.R. Tolkien publishes the first two parts of the Lord of the Rings trilogy: The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers. Tolkien was an Oxford professor of Anglo-Saxon language and literature and drew on his scholarly interests in history, language and mythology to create the fictional land of Middle Earth where the books are set.
Williams Golding publishes, Lord of the Flies.