Monday, September 24, 2007

The Churchill Series – Sept.24, 2007

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

What follows is a wonderful story I found in William F. Buckley’s Miles Gone By (Regnery, 2004). It involves Churchill, of course, Henry (Harry) Luce, founder of TIME, Life, Fortune and other magazines, and his wife, Clare Boothe Luce, a journalist, diplomat and, like Churchill, talented amateur painter.

As Buckley recounts the story, his good friend Clare Luce was giving him a painting lesson and:

interwove, with her instructions on how to paint, recollections of her experiences with canvas and oils.

Just after the war she and her husband want to England and spent the weekend as guests of Winston Churchill at Chartwell.

“I tried to be especially ingratiating because Harry wanted U. S. rights to Churchill’s war memoirs for Life magazine. So passing through one gallery I said, “These are wonderful paintings.”

Churchill said, “I’m glad you like them, but only one of them is painted by me.”

Claire flashed her sly, infectious smile, and then a little snort of laughter. “I thought, Oh dear, that makes me sound very sycophantic. I asked which one was his, and he pointed to a pastoral scene, a field of some sort. I thought I’d better do something to establish my critical independence. I said I liked it but I thought it was too - - placid; lacking in movement.”

“Three weeks later in New York that painting arrived, but on it were three sheep bouncing about. His note read, ‘Is that any better?’”(pgs. 263-264)