Winston Churchill :His Other Life
My father， Winston Churchill， began his love affair with painting in his 40s， amid 1 circumstances. As First Lord of the Admiralty in 1915， he was deeply involved in a campaign in the Dardanelles that could have shortened the course of a bloody2 world war. But when the mission failed， with great loss of life， Churchill paid the price， both publicly and privately3. He was removed from the admiralty and effectively sidelined.
Overwhelmed by the catastrophe4 — “I thought he would die of grief，” said his wife， Clementine —he retired5 with his family to Hoe Farm， a country retreat in Surrey. There， as Churchill later recalled， “The 6 of painting came to my rescue!”
Wandering in the garden one day， he chanced upon his sister-in-law sketching7 with watercolors. He watched her for a few minutes， then borrowed her brush and tried his hand. The had cast her spell!
Churchill soon decided8 to experiment with oils. Delighted with this distraction9 from his dark broodings， off to buy whatever paints she could find.
For Churchill， however， the next step seemed difficult as he contemplated10 the blameless whiteness of a new canvas. He started with the sky and later described how “very gingerly I mixed a little blue paint on the palette， and then with infinite precaution made a mark about as big as a bean upon the affronted11 snow-white shield. At that moment the sound of a motor car was heard in the drive. From this chariot stepped the gifted wife of Sir John Lavery .”
“ ‘Painting!’ she declared. ‘But what are you hesitating about? — the big one.’ Splash into the turpentine， wallop into the blue and the white， frantic12 flourish on the palette， and then several fierce strokes and slashes13 of blue on the absolutely cowering14 canvas.”
At that time， John Lavery— a Churchill neighbor and celebrated15 painter— was tutoring Churchill in his art. Later， pupil: “Had he chosen painting instead of statesmanship，;
In painting， with whom he was to walk for the greater part of the years that remained to him. After the war， painting would offer deep solace16 when， in 1921， the death of the mother was followed two months later by the loss of his and Clementine’s beloved three-year-old daughter， Marigold. Battered17 by grief， Winston took refuge at the home of friends in Scotland， in his painting. He wrote to Clementine: “I went out and painted a beautiful river in the afternoon light with crimson18 and golden hills in the background. Alas19 I keep feeling the hurt of the Duckadilly .”
Historians have called the decade after 1929， when the Conservative government fell and Winston was out of office， his wilderness20 years. Politically he may have been wandering in barren places， a lonely fighter trying to awaken21 Britain to the menace of Hitler， but artistically22 that wilderness bore abundant fruit. During these years he often painted in the South of France. Of the 500-odd canvases extant， roughly 250 date from 1930 to 1939.
Painting remained a joy to Churchill to the end of his life. “Happy are the painters，” he had written in his book Painting as a Pastime， “ for they shall not be lonely. Light and color， peace and hope， to the end of the day.” And so it was for my father.