Winston Churchill painting of Norfolk sells for £1.3m at auction
- Credit: PA
An oil painting by Sir Winston Churchill of a secluded Norfolk beauty spot has fetched more than £1.3m at auction.
Entitled 'The Moat, Breccles', the artwork went under the hammer for $1.845m (£1.32m) with New York auctioneers, Phillips.
The painting, completed exactly a century ago, depicts a body of water aligned by trees in the tiny village of Breckles, between Watton and Thetford.
It stayed with Churchill for four decades until he gifted the work to Greek shipping mogul, Aristotle Onassis, demonstrating their firm friendship.
The creation hung in the saloon of Onassis’ superyacht, 'Christina', on which the former prime minister cruised eight times between 1958 and 1963.
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Alongside it were works by El Greco, Paul Gauguin, Camille Pissarro and Johannes Vermeer.
Onassis' admiration for Churchill was further affirmed by his possession of a bust of the British statesman, while a complete set of his works were all personally autographed.
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Following the tycoon's death in 1975, his daughter Christina - after whom the yacht was named - donated the floating palace to the Greek government.
The painting, signed 'WSC' in its bottom right corner, ended up in storage and is thought to have remained there for more than 40 years.
While 1921 was a positive year for Churchill in a political sense, his professional progress was offset by the sad death of his mother, followed by his daughter, within the space of a couple of months.
'The Moat, Breccles' was conceived that same August while the then 46-year-old overcame his loss.
He and his wife, Clementine, would visit the latter's cousin, Venetia Montagu, during this period.
The socialite lived in Breckles, where magnificent wooden glens would ignite Churchill's creative spark and desire to paint.
Meanwhile, he was beginning to gain international recognition for his talent and was approached by The Strand Magazine to pen two articles about his painting, to be featured with pictures reproduced in color.
'The Moat, Breccles' was one of 19 paintings he chose to feature in the articles entitled 'Painting as a Pastime'.