When he wasn’t making history, Winston Churchill painted


Some have ventured to draw a line between Churchill’s painting pursuits and his legendary talent for writing. “The way he picked up a paintbrush is analogous to the way he picked up a pen to write a speech,” said Timothy Riley, director and chief curator of the National Churchill Museum in Missouri. “His paintings come from the same place. His brilliant mind, his vision, his powers of observation informed him as a statesman, writer, reader and painter.

But his approach to painting is in total contradiction with that of writing. While painting was a challenge, writing came naturally to him and it was how he earned his living for much of his life. “With painting Churchill was always the avid student, while with words he was always the master,” Carter said.

However, Churchill’s approach to painting may have been influenced by his writings. “We know Winston Churchill as a great writer and lecturer,” Riley said. “His speeches are among the greatest of the 20th century, and what he did with words, moving people through speeches, he tried to do with color and light and shadow – the things that painters use to convey a message, portray the world, and evoke emotion.

Sandys believes painting made Churchill a more effective leader, not least because of the enhanced powers of observation and memory the hobby gave him. He reminisced about the Battle of Britain in 1940, shortly after Churchill became prime minister, when he traveled to the front lines to observe Britain’s defence. “Maybe he thought that by going out there and looking at these things himself, he would see more of them and remember them more accurately,” Sandys offered, noting that it might have helped him analyze. the full picture of the battlefield, seeing areas for improvement. “I think that’s a question that should be asked: did painting contribute to some of the decisions he made at that critical moment?” (Churchill himself drew parallels between the role of a general in battle and that of a painter.)


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