Churchill’s only wartime painting sells for record $11.6M

Winston Churchill painting

Sir Winston Churchill, ‘Tower of the Koutoubia Mosque,’ oil on canvas, 18.3 x 24.4in, 45.7 x 61cm, painted in January 1943. Price realized: $11,590,715. Image courtesy of Christie’s

LONDON – Sir Winston Churchill’s Tower of the Koutoubia Mosque sold for £8,285,000 ($11,590,715 / €9,577,460) at Christie’s Modern British Art Evening Sale on Monday. The sale of the oil on canvas realized a new world auction record for Churchill, who was prime minister of the United Kingdom at the time.

The painting is the only work that Churchill created during World War II, executing the painting in Marrakesh following the Casablanca Conference in January 1943. Churchill invited President Franklin D. Roosevelt to join him in Marrakesh the day after the conference concluded, motivated by his desire to share the views of the city and the light at sunset, which he so revered, with Roosevelt. The view impressed Roosevelt so much that Churchill decided to capture the scene for him as a memento of their excursion. This act was seen not only as an indication of their friendship but of the special relationship between the UK and the United States.

Sir Winston Churchill began painting scenes of Morocco after being encouraged to visit the country by his painting tutor, Sir John Lavery. Upon his first visit in 1935, he felt that the light and scenery were unrivaled, creating some 45 paintings of the country.