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(CHURCHILL, Winston S.) BIRLEY, Oswald.

Winston S. Churchill Engraved in Mezzotint from the Painting.

Reproduced by The Times with the permission of Lady Birley and the Speaker. House of Commons.

Published: London: The Times Publishing Company, 1946

Stock code: 79942

Price: £800

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This item is on show at 100 Fulham Road (map)

Edition of 325. Signed in pencil below the image by the engraver, Lawrence Josset. Birley was probably the leading portraitist of his day, after his first royal commission in 1928, a portrait of George VI for the National Museum of Wales, he painted “virtually every member of the royal family including Queen Mary and George VI, Queen Elizabeth, Elizabeth II, and Prince Philip.” (ODNB) He made four portraits of Churchill, the present one being the first, which was commissioned for the House of Commons. Birley and Churchill became good friends, with the artist encouraging the politician’s efforts and accompanying him on painting jaunts to the South of France. The portrait has been worked in colour mezzotint by Lawrence Josset, who, in his obituary by the print-maker Anthony Dyson, was described as “a magnificent anachronism.” Josset “like his great 18th- and 19th-century predecessors …made his living as a reproductive mezzotint engraver. He, like his artistic forebears, used this most demanding of techniques to reproduce original paintings with astounding faithfulness; but, while the engravers of earlier times had no alternative, Josset furthered the great tradition of reproductive engraving in an age when the camera had all but eclipsed the craft.” The plate for his mezzotint of Annigoni’s portrait of the Queen, also published by the Times Publishing Company and hand-printed in colour, was “estimated to be the result of six months’ labour, and that the arduous process of inking and printing in colour meant that only two impressions could be made in a day.” (The Independent, 27 May, 1995)

Image size: 54.5 44 cm. An excellent clean copy. Presented in the contemporary oak and gilt frame.

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