17 of 216 portraits of Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill
by Graham Sutherland
pencil and wash, 1954
22 1/2 in. x 17 3/8 in. (570 mm x 440 mm)
Sitterback to top
- Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill (1874-1965), Prime Minister. Sitter in 216 portraits.
Artistback to top
- Graham Vivian Sutherland (1903-1980), Painter. Artist associated with 23 portraits, Sitter in 62 portraits.
This portraitback to top
This drawing is one of a number of studies for Sutherland's lost presentation portrait of Churchill. The squared-up drawing for the final version is the nearest we can now get to the composition, other than through photographs. Sensitive pencil work around the head, and a rub and wash technique, are typical of the artist's working methods.
Linked publicationsback to top
- Cooper, John, Great Britons: The Great Debate, 2002, p. 133 Read entry
Lady Churchill described Graham Sutherland as a 'Wow', a family term expressing strong approval. The painter initially felt welcome at Chequers, but he found Churchill's curiosity as the portrait developed disturbing and prevented him from seeing it. Shown the painting on completion, Churchill told Lord Moran, 'I think it is malignant.' After the presentation by the Houses of Parliament, Lady Churchill put it in the attic, and later had it cut up and incinerated. The National Portrait Gallery has two of Sutherland's preparatory oil sketches for the head and a compositional drawing. The transparency form which the painting has been reproduced here has discoloured with age but it is one of the few surviving records of the work.
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 124
Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top
- Face of Britain: Power (14 September 2015 - 4 January 2016)
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.
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Williams Golding publishes, Lord of the Flies.