Churchill, who was born in 1874, was a man of rare versatility, and this was one of his many talents, as an amateur painter. He took up the pastime as a middle-aged man in 1915, and over the next 50 years produced more than 500 paintings. Thirty-two of them are reproduced on 16 pages in this book, their two-a-page size allowing for adequate appreciation but not detailed examination.

He liked to paint the ancestral family home, Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, where he was born, and then Chartwell, at Westerham in Kent, which he bought in 1922 and was his home for more than 40 years until shortly before his death, age 90, in 1965. Blenheim's Long Library, Great Hall and its tapestries commemorating the first Duke of Marlborough's great military victory of 1704 are depicted, as are "Winter Sunshine at Chartwell", "Tea at Chartwell" and "Chartwell in Winter".

# Tapestries at Blenheim by Winston Churchill

Churchill's political and personal travels took him far and wide, and "The Pyramids" dates from 1921 when he was there as Colonial Secretary to preside over a conference intended to settle the future of the Middle East. He adored the French Riviera for its light and warmth, as captured in his "View of Monte Carlo and Monaco" from around 1930, but also because he liked a flutter in the casinos. Another work from there is "Harbour, Cannes".

He sometimes painted from photographs, as seen in his copy of a shot of the second Duke of Westminster and his dog Sam from the late 1920s, and one of his wife of 57 years, Clementine Ogilvy Spencer-Churchill, at the launching of a ship in March 1940, painted in August 1955 soon after he resigned his second term as Prime Minister.

Perhaps the most revealing of the 32 paintings reproduced here is a very early work, a stark self-portrait from 1915 that gives a clue as to his other main reason for taking up the hobby: to stave off the "black dog" of depression from which he suffered. Here is a picture of a man lost in darkness.

Indeed, his painting "Marrakech" (circa 1935), the Moroccan city where he would spend much time in his later years, is a lively, sunny work, whereas the description of the somber "Walls at Marrakech" (1959) finds Cannadine noting that "The light and warmth are gone, and the melancholy is back".

The first part of "The Statesman as Artist" collects all Churchill's writings and speeches on art, 12 in total, including his speeches to the Royal Academy banquets at Burlington House, London, in 1912, 1913, 1919, 1927, 1932, 1938, 1953 and 1954. The Royal Academy of Arts was founded in the heart of London in 1768 to champion art and artists, and is described as a place where art is made, exhibited and debated. Its annual Summer Exhibition is the largest open-submission art exhibition in the world.

There are two of Churchill's reviews of Summer Exhibitions, for the Daily Mail newspaper in 1932 and 1934, and a short speech he made about art and freedom under the title "'Sea Power" in Art", delivered at an exhibition opening in the New Burlington Galleries in London in 1937. The last of the 12 of Churchill's own views on art is perhaps the most important in this book, being a longish essay titled "Painting as a Pastime", and which he wrote in 1948.

# The Harbour at St Jean Cap-ferrat by Winston Churchill

In the second part of "The Statesman as Artist" four luminaries subject Churchill's art to scrutiny, namely art critic Eric Newton in 1950, art historian Professor Thomas Bodkin in 1953 and 1959, arts administrator and historian John Rothenstein in 1954 and 1970, and Welsh painter Augustus John in 1959. From John we have his hitherto unpublished introduction to the Royal Academy exhibition of Churchill's paintings in 1959.

Newton begins: "Whatever Mr Churchill does is done thoroughly. Whether he is marshalling armies or Cabinet ministers or words or paint-brushes he combines intelligence, foresight and will power to a degree that makes him impossible to ignore."

Bodkin: "It is all very well to ask the critic: what would you think of his pictures if you came suddenly upon a large number of them, unsigned and untitled, for the first time in a public exhibition? A competent critic would, beyond all shadow of doubt, reply at least that he would be much impressed by them and would want to see that exhibition again, fortified by some outside knowledge of the painter's personality and career. Good work in any art provokes curiosity about its author."

Most revealing of all is Churchill's own lengthy "Painting as a Pastime", in which he puts forward his hobby as one remedy for "the avoidance of worry and mental overstrain by persons who, over prolonged periods, have to bear exceptional responsibilities and discharge duties upon a very large scale".

He opines: "Painting is complete as a distraction. I know of nothing which, without exhausting the body, more entirely absorbs the mind. Whatever the worries of the hour or the threats of the future, once the picture has begun to flow along, there is no room for them in the mental screen."

The book, then, is "Edited and introduced" by Cannadine, not written by him in the normal sense. However, he has produced a long and valuable "Introduction", where we learn that "With the possible exception of Mr Gladstone, no British prime minister of modern times has inhabited so many varied and different hinterlands, or done so with such energy, vigour, brio and élan. And on any list of what Churchill called his ‘hobbies', painting eventually came to rank very high, both in terms of the therapy and pleasure that it gave him, and as an important aspect of his latter-day reputation as ‘the largest human being of our time'."

Trees near Breccles by Winston Churchill

Sir David Cannadine's curriculum vitae offers us a man who is Dodge Professor of History at Princeton University in the United States, Editor of the "Oxford Dictionary of National Biography" and President of the British Academy. His numerous publications include "The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy", "Class in Britain", "In Churchill's Shadow", "George V", "Margaret Thatcher: A Life and Legacy" and "Victorious Century: The United Kingdom 1800-1906". He appears regularly on television and radio, and lectures widely in the United Kingdom and United States.

His "Churchill. The Statesman as Artist" is a picture in itself, a detailed summary of this perhaps not fully appreciated facet of an extraordinary man. It must have been a considerable piece of detective work to uncover the book's comprehensive inclusions.

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