Winston Churchill

1 portrait of Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill, by Graham Vivian Sutherland, 1954 - NPG 5332 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Winston Churchill

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
Primary Collection
NPG 5332

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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.

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