Art of Diplomacy Catalogue Preview - Page 5

FOREWORD Churchill was invariably shy about exhibiting his paintings under his own name, preferring to use instead what his friend President Roosevelt once described in a letter to the Prime Minister as a “nom de palette.” Churchill insisted on using one in 1947 after he had been persuaded to submit two paintings to the Royal Academy's annual summer exhibition in London. Both were accepted for hanging, and only then was the true identity of their artist revealed. One of these, “Winter Sunshine, Chartwell,” I have never forgotten seeing there as a 10-year-old boy. A decade later, it required the personal intervention of President Eisenhower before Churchill would agree to an exhibition of his paintings being sent on tour to the United States and Canada – and then onwards, at the behest of Prime Minister Menzies, to Australia and New Zealand. Its culmination was an exhibition at the Royal Academy in London – which again I was lucky enough to see in 1959. For any artist, a carefully selected exhibition is necessary in order to appreciate the extent and variety of his work. Which is why I welcome this large exhibition of Churchill's paintings in Atlanta and heartily congratulate all those whose unstinting efforts, interest and support have made it possible. I hope all those so importantly involved will allow me to mention in particular two individuals: Churchill's great-grandson, the committed and determined Duncan Sandys, and the exhilaratingly original minded art historian J. English Cook. In itself this exhibition is an exciting prospect. Its theme, The Art of Diplomacy, is an idea whose time has come in its aim of relating “Churchill's strategic decision-making” directly to “his evolving practice as an artist.” I don't mind admitting that I was thrilled by the concept because, at last, it brings serious consideration to the true importance of Churchill's paintings – too often misinterpreted perhaps as little more than unusually attractive and captivating personal remembrances of a very great man. This has never been my view, certainly not since I was privileged to catalogue them all, soon after Churchill's death in 1965. David Coombs Author, Sir Winston Churchill: His Life and His Paintings Milford, Surrey, UK 2