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“The Roaring Lion” by Yousuf Karsh

"The Roaring Lion" by Yousuf Karsh

“The Roaring Lion” by Yousuf Karsh

“The Roaring Lion” by Yousuf Karsh is a 1941 photo of Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister. The photo was taken in the chamber of the Speaker of the House of Commons in the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa after Churchill delivered a speech on World War II to the Canadian parliament’s members.

This picture portrait is noted for Churchill’s posture and facial expression, which have been compared to the wartime feelings that prevailed in the UK, persistence in the face of an all-conquering enemy.

The photo session was short, and, just before exposure, Karsh moved towards Churchill and removed the cigar he had in his hand.

Churchill was miffed and showed his displeasure in the portrait. This photo is one of the most reproduced portraits in the history of photography.

It has been described as one of the most iconic portraits that became an icon of Britain’s stand against fascism.

During the 1930s, Churchill took the lead in calling for British rearmament to counter the growing threat of militarism in Nazi Germany. At the outbreak of the Second World War, he was re-appointed First Lord of the Admiralty.

In May 1940, he became Prime Minister and oversaw British involvement in the Allied war effort against the Axis powers, resulting in victory in 1945. 

This picture appeared on the cover of the May 21, 1945 issue of Life and now hangs on the Speaker’s chamber wall.

Yousuf Karsh

Yousuf Karsh (1908 – 2002) was an Armenian-Canadian photographer known for his portraits of notable individuals. He is one of the greatest portrait photographers of the 20th century.

An Armenian Genocide survivor, Karsh migrated to Canada as a refugee. By the 1930s, he established himself as a significant photographer in Ottawa, where he lived most of his adult life, though he traveled extensively for work.

His iconic 1941 photograph of Winston Churchill was a breakthrough point in his 60-year career. He took numerous photo portraits of famous political leaders, men, and women of arts and sciences.

Over 20 photos by Karsh appeared on the cover of Life magazine until he retired in 1992.

The Roaring Lion

  • Title:                 The Roaring Lion
  • Artist:               Yousuf Karsh
  • Date:                30 December 1941
  • Medium:          Gelatin silver print 
  • Dimensions:     Height: 30.8 cm (12.1 in); Width: 24 cm (9.4 in) 
  • Category:         Popular Portrait Paintings
  • Museum:         Library and Archives Canada

Yousuf Karsh

  • Name:             Yousuf Karsh
  • Born:              1908, Mardin, Ottoman Empire (present-day Turkey)
  • Died:               2002 (aged 93), Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
  • Nationality:    Armenian-Canadian
  • Notable Works:

Winston Churchill, 1941 by Yousef Karsh

Yousuf Karsh Portrait Photographer

Yousuf Karsh


“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.”
– William Shakespeare


Photo Credit: 1) Yousuf Karsh / Public domain

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