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08. March 2021

Winston Churchill’s Only Wartime Painting Sold for 7 Million Pounds at Christie’s

The Tower of the Koutoubia Mosque, a painting by the United Kingdom’s most famous prime minister, Winston Churchill, was sold for 7 million pounds at our partner Christie's London auction house on March 1st. The pre-sale estimate was roughly 2.5 million pounds.

Churchill’s most famous painting was formerly part of Angelina Jolie’s private art collection. Churchill painted this unique work during the Second World War while on an official visit to Morocco in 1943, where he travelled to attend a secret conference with President Franklin D. Roosevelt in Casablanca. This was a pivotal moment in the war as the two powers agreed on a united war strategy going forward during their very important meeting. Churchill returned to his beloved Marrakesh after the conference concluded and invited Roosevelt to join him there.

The painting is significant not only historically, but also politically. Churchill admired Morocco’s unique landscape, especially the play of light as the sun set over it, and insisted that Roosevelt see the Marrakesh panorama with his own eyes. He later gifted the oil painting depicting Marrakesh and the Atlas Mountains to the American president. Tower of the Koutoubia Mosque is arguably Winston Churchill’s finest painting. According to Nick Orchard, Head of Modern British Art at Christie's, it highlights the significance of Morocco to Churchill and the importance of the friendship between the two world leaders. The fact that Churchill gave the painting to Roosevelt shows in what high regard he held the partnership between the United Kingdom and the United States during the Second World War. The gesture was a very personal diplomatic act.

Winston Churchill began making sketches of Morocco while on his first visit to the country in 1935. Over the course of his lifetime, he painted more than 500 paintings, most of which he gave away to his family and friends, but many remained in his personal possession. Today, Churchill’s artworks are in high demand by art collectors.

Sir Winston Churchill, Tower of the Koutoubia Mosque, oil on canvas | Christie’s

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