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Winston Churchill in Art

"Sir Winston Churchill, 1874 - 1965. Statesman" by James Guthrie

Sir Winston Churchill in Art

“Sir Winston Churchill, 1874 – 1965. Statesman” by James Guthrie was completed shortly after the First World War in which Churchill served as First Lord of the Admiralty, Minister of Munitions, and Secretary for War with responsibility for demobilization.

This portrait from 1920 was among a series of portraits of contemporary statesmen, painted in preparation for his Guthrie’s painting of  “Statesmen of World War I.”

Churchill was a Member of Parliament for Dundee from 1908-22. He went on to serve as Prime Minister during the Second World War from 1940-45.

James Guthrie

Sir James Guthrie (1859 – 1930) was a Scottish painter, best known in his own lifetime for his portraiture, although today more generally regarded as a painter of Scottish Realism.

In 1919, Guthrie was commissioned by a South African financier to paint a group portrait of 17 politicians and statesmen of Britain and its allies who held office during the First World War.

The painting, “Statesmen of World War I,” was completed in 1930, shortly before Guthrie’s death. The painting was donated to the National Portrait Gallery, London. Guthrie’s 17 preparatory oil studies were also donated to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

Sir Winston Churchill, 1874 – 1965. Statesman

  • Title:                 Sir Winston Churchill, 1874 – 1965. Statesman
  • Artist:               James Guthrie
  • Date:                1920
  • Medium:          Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions:     Height: 91.5 cm (36 in); Width: 71.1 cm (27.9 in)
  • Category:         Popular Portrait Paintings
  • Museum:         Scottish National Gallery

James Guthrie

“Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill” by Ambrose McEvoy

"Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill" by Ambrose McEvoy

“Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill” by Ambrose McEvoy

“Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill” by Ambrose McEvoy depicts the British statesman, army officer, and writer. Churchill was a Member of Parliament (MP) from 1900 and represented several constituencies.

Ideologically an economic liberal and imperialist, he was a member of the Liberal Party from 1904 to 1924.

Churchill was born at Blenheim Palace, his family’s estate. Of mixed English and American parentage, Churchill was born into a wealthy, aristocratic family. 

He joined the British Army in 1895 and saw action in British India, the Anglo-Sudan War, and the Second Boer War, gaining fame as a war correspondent and writing books about his campaigns.

Elected a Conservative MP in 1900, he defected to the Liberals in 1904. Churchill served as President of the Board of Trade and Home Secretary, championing prison reform and workers’ social security.

As First Lord of the Admiralty during the First World War, he oversaw the Gallipoli Campaign. After it proved a disaster, he was demoted to Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

He resigned in 1915 and joined the Royal Scots Fusiliers on the Western Front for six months. In 1917, he returned to government and served successively as Minister of Munitions, Secretary of State for War, Secretary of State for Air, and Secretary of State for the Colonies.

After two years out of Parliament, he served as Chancellor of the Exchequer, returning the pound sterling in 1925 to the gold standard at its pre-war parity, a move widely seen as creating deflationary pressure and depressing the UK economy.

Ambrose McEvoy

Arthur Ambrose McEvoy (1877 – 1927) was an English artist. His early works are landscapes and interiors with figures, in a style influenced by James McNeill Whistler.

Later he gained success as a portrait painter, mainly of women and often in watercolor.

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill

  • Title:                  Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill
  • Artist:                Ambrose McEvoy
  • Date:                1919 – 1920
  • Medium:           Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions:     Height: 77.4 cm (30.4 in); Width: 63.8 cm (25.1 in) 
  • Category:         Popular Portrait Paintings
  • Museum:          National Portrait Gallery, London

Ambrose McEvoy

  • Name:             Arthur Ambrose McEvoy
  • Born:              1877 Crudwell, Wiltshire
  • Died:              1927, Pimlico, London,
  • Nationality:    English
  • Notable Works:
    • Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill

“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 members of the parliament.

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.

Ambrose McEvoy

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:
    • The Roaring Lion

“Winston Churchill” by Peter McIntyre

"Winston Churchill" by Peter McIntyre

“Winston Churchill in Siren Suit, 1 August 1942” by Peter McIntyre

“Winston Churchill” by Peter McIntyre depicts the Prime Minister whose leadership during World War Two was characterized by a continual refusal to surrender or compromise, inspiring a culture of steadfast resistance within Britain.

This portrait of Churchill was painted by artist Peter McIntyre in 1942, during World War Two in which McIntyre was appointed New Zealand’s official war artist.

McIntyre covered the campaigns in Greece, Crete, the Western Desert, Tripolitania, Tunisia, and Italy. This depiction shows the war leader in his Siren Suit, 1 August 1942, holding a sun umbrella during one of his war-time tours to a desert location.

Peter McIntyre

Peter McIntyre (1910 – 1995) was a New Zealand painter and author.

On the outbreak of the Second World War, McIntyre was in London and attempted to enlist in the British Army but was declined. He soon joined the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force (2NZEF) in London.

In 1940, his unit left England for Egypt, where McIntyre’s artistic skills were soon recognized. His skills soon saw him transferred to the headquarters of the 2nd New Zealand Division, preparing maps and drawings of Italian defensive positions based on aerial photographs.

His workspace was surrounded by some of his own artwork, which soon attracted the division’s commander’s attention, and he was selected as the official New Zealand war artist.

McIntyre’s war artwork is part of the National Collection of War Art under the care of Archives NZ.

Winston Churchill in Siren Suit, 1 August 1942

  • Title:                  Winston Churchill in Siren Suit, 1 August 1942
  • Artist:                Peter McIntyre
  • Date:                1942
  • Medium:           Oils on canvas
  • Dimensions:     490 x 365mm
  • Category:          Popular Portrait Paintings
  • Museum:          Archives New Zealand

Peter McIntyre

  • Name:            Peter McIntyre
  • Born:              1910, Dunedin, New Zealand
  • Died:              1995 (aged 85), Wellington, New Zealand
  • Nationality:   New Zealand
  • Notable Works:
    • Winston Churchill in Siren Suit, 1 August 1942

“Winston Churchill” by Walter Sickert

"Winston Churchill" by Walter Sickert

“Winston Churchill” by Walter Sickert

“Winston Churchill” by Walter Sickert depicts one of the most famous faces of the twentieth century, holding his smoking cigar and with his look of aggressive determination.

This sketch was undertaken when Churchill was Chancellor of the Exchequer. At the time, Sickert was giving Churchill painting lessons at his home, Chartwell in Kent.

As well as writing, Churchill became an accomplished amateur artist after he resigned from the Admiralty in 1915.

Using the pseudonym “Charles Morin,” he continued this hobby throughout his life and completed hundreds of paintings, many of which are on show in Chartwell’s studio.

Sickert worked chiefly from photographs, but Churchill may have sat for him. Churchill disliked the portrait and gave it away.

Walter Sickert

Walter Richard Sickert (1860 – 1942) was a British painter and printmaker who was a member of the Post-Impressionist artists in early 20th-century London.

He was an important influence on distinctively British styles of avant-garde art in the mid- and late 20th century.

His work includes portraits of well-known personalities and images derived from press photographs. He is considered a prominent figure in the transition from Impressionism to Modernism.

Winston Churchill

  • Title:                   Winston Churchill
  • Artist:                 Walter Sickert
  • Date:                  1927
  • Medium:            Oils on canvas
  • Dimensions:      18 in. x 12 in. (457 mm x 305 mm)
  • Category:           Popular Portrait Paintings
  • Museum:           National Portrait Gallery, London

Walter Sickert

  • Name:            Walter Sickert
  • Born:              1860, Munich, Germany
  • Died:              1942, (aged 81), Bath, Somerset 
  • Nationality:    British
  • Notable Works:
    • Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill, 1941 by Yousef Karsh 

Virtual Tour of the National Portrait Gallery, London

The Legacy of Winston Churchill

A Virtual Tour of Portraits

Mystery Of The Lost Churchill

Virtual Tour of the Scottish National Gallery

The Paintings of Sir Winston Churchill


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


Photo Credit: 1) James Guthrie / Public domain; Ambrose McEvoy / Public domain. ; Yousuf Karsh / Public domain; Archives New Zealand from New Zealand / CC BY-SA (; Walter Richard Sickert (1860-1942), Painter. Artist associated with 10 portraits, Sitter associated with 21 portraits. / Public domain

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