Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The Churchill Series - May 6, 2009

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

Churchill’s friend of sixty years, Charlotte Bonham Carter, observed him painting on a June day in 1915 when his political career was at its lowest point because he'd been wrongly blamed for the failure of the Gallipoli campaign:

Watching him paint for the first time on that June morning I became suddenly aware that it was the only occupation I had ever seen him practice in silence. When golfing, bathing, rock climbing, building sand castles on the beach, even when playing bezique or bridge he talked – and thus enhanced for all the drama and excitement of these pastimes.

But he painted silently, rapt in intense appraisal, observation, and assessment of the scene he meant to capture and to transfer to his canvas. He has (characteristically) compared painting a picture to fighting a battle.“It is, if anything, more exciting than fighting it successfully. ... It is the same kind of problem as unfolding a long, sustained, interlocked argument. ... It is a proposition which, whether of few or numberless parts, in commanded by a single unity of conception.”

Painting challenged his intellect, appealed to his sense of beauty and proportion, unleashed his creative impulse, and it was because he was thus once more wholly engaged that painting brought him peace..
I hope you’re back tomorrow.
Charlotte Bonham Carter,
Winston Churchill: An Intimate Portrait. (p.382)