by Yousuf Karsh
bromide print, 1941
10 7/8 in. x 8 1/2 in. (277 mm x 217 mm)
Given by the photographer, Yousuf Karsh, 1991
Sitterback to top
- Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill (1874-1965), Prime Minister. Sitter in 212 portraits.
Artistback to top
- Yousuf Karsh (1908-2002), Photographer. Artist associated with 155 portraits, Sitter in 1 portrait.
This portraitback to top
Karsh photographed the great wartime leader on a visit to the Canadian House of Commons in Ottawa. In a moment of boldness, Karsh snatched a cigar from Churchill's mouth. 'By the time I got back to my camera,' he later recalled, 'he looked so belligerent he could have devoured me.' It became one of the best-known photographs of Churchill and Karsh acknowledged that its success 'changed my life.' Dubbed the 'Roaring lion', this became one of the most enduring of Churchill's portraits and is among the most widely reproduced photographs in the history of photography.
Linked publicationsback to top
- Gibson, Robin; Clerk, Honor, 20th Century Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery Collection, 1993, p. 2
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 124
Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top
- Yousuf Karsh (15 January 2008 - 6 July 2008)
- Public and Private: Winston Churchill in Photographs
Events of 1941back to top
Current affairsThe Blitz continues with sustained Luftwaffe attacks on British cities. As the bombing went on the urban population got used to the black out, the air raid sirens and nights spent in shelter. The idea emerged (to some extent a myth) of the 'spirit of the Blitz' where people pulled together united, disregarding traditional class and social divisions.
Art and scienceFrank Whittle demonstrates the first test-flight of a plane powered by jet propulsion. Although the German, Hans von Ohain, built the first jet plane, Whittle was the first to patent a design for the jet engine (in 1930), and his subsequent work helped to advance the technology and made Britain leaders in the field.
InternationalThe Soviet Union and America join the Allies. The Soviet Union was forced to switch sides after Hitler attacked in June 1941, reneging the Soviet-Nazi pact. Six months later the US Navy was attacked by Japan at Pearl Harbour. The following day the USA declared war on Japan, and three days later Germany and Italy declared war on America.
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