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Portrait photograph and accompanying letter.
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  • 102638
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(CHURCHILL, Winston S.) STONEMAN, Walter.

Portrait photograph and accompanying letter.

Published: London: 1945

Stock code: 102638

Price: £4,500

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This item is on show at 43 Dover Street (map)

Signed on the mount in black ink “W. S. Churchill”, showing Churchill standing three-quarter length in black formal suit and bow-tie, with right hand resting on the Cabinet desk. Accompanying letter and compliments slip from his aide-de-camp, C. R. Thompson sending it to Sergeant Frank Bessant expressing thanks for his services in the Marine Detachment at 10 Downing Street, studio stamp on reverse. This famous wartime image was taken at about 3pm on 1st April 1941 as Churchill waited for word on Germany’s invasion of Yugoslavia. Sensing the historical significance of the sitting, Stoneman not only recorded the date but also the time for posterity. Stalin reputedly kept a copy of this print on his desk in the Kremlin. This photograph was presented to Frank Bessant of the Royal Marines who was later recalled to be one of Churchill’s bodyguards, and has remained in the family since then. Stoneman began as a photographer in the 1890s and was still working in his studio in Baker Street at the time of his death in 1958. He was the chief photographer (and ultimately chairman) of J. Russell & Sons, photographers to the National Portrait Gallery’s National Photographic Record, founded in 1926. In that capacity he photographed some 7,000 distinguished sitters. He called himself ‘the Man’s Photographer’ on the now controversial grounds that “Women do not make beautiful photographs. Men have more character in their faces”.

Vintage silver gelatin print, mounted on card. Stoneman’s studio wet-stamp verso. Very good condition, a little marginal oxidisation, light creasing to mount. Size: 11.4 x 15 cm. Card size: 19 x 12.5 cm. Presented in a handmade frame with conservation mount and glass.

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