Angelina Jolie Is Selling the Only Painting Winston Churchill Made During World War II—and It Could Fetch $3.4 Million at Christie’s
The painting hits the block on March 1.
The only painting Winston Churchill painted during World War II is hitting the auction block—and it has a very unlikely consignor. The work, which the former prime minister originally gifted to US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, is being offered at Christie’s by the actress and philanthropist Angelina Jolie.
The intimate scene, which carries an estimate of £1.5 million to £2.5 million ($2.1 million to $3.4 million), will lead Christie’s modern British evening sale on March 1.
Before finding its way into the collection of Hollywood royalty, the picture was passed from FDR to his son Elliott Roosevelt. The Jolie Family Collection has owned Tower of the Koutoubia Mosque (1943) for the past decade, after it sold at M.S. Rau in New Orleans in 2011.
The serene scene of the Koutoubia Mosque was created against a momentous historical backdrop. Churchill painted the work immediately following the Casablanca Conference in 1943. The meeting, which was held between January 14 and 24 in the Moroccan city, helped to solidify the United States, Britain, and other Allied powers’s plans to take on the Axis.
After the conference, then-Prime Minister Churchill invited the US President to visit Marrakech and experience the city’s scenic mountain views, which had long enchanted Churchill. Upon viewing the 12th-century mosque silhouetted against the Atlas Mountains, Roosevelt was so impressed that Churchill decided to make him a painting of the scene as a gift and gesture of friendship.
In a statement, Nick Orchard, the head of modern British art at Christie’s, described Jolie’s work as “arguably the best painting by Winston Churchill due to the significance of the subject matter to him, and the fact that it highlights the importance of the friendship between the two leaders.” It does not currently carry a third-party guarantee.
According to a press release, Churchill’s painting tutor, the Irish portraitist Sir John Lavery, first urged the avid painter to visit Morocco. All told, Churchill completed around 45 works based on the country’s landscape.
The current auction record for Churchill is £1.8 million ($2.8 million), set at Sotheby’s in 2014 for The Goldfish Pond at Chartwell (1932). The painting, which more than doubled its presale estimate, came from the collection of Mary Soames, the daughter of the former prime minister, who died in 2014.
The former partner of avid art collector Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie is better known as an international activist, philanthropist, and actress, though during their marriage, the couple made a few high-profile acquisitions including works by Banksy and Neo Rauch.
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