Bust portrait of Churchill in 1948.[Chartwell (?)], December, 1948 Stock Code: 106295
NotesDirect and engaging head-and-shoulders portrait taken from life by Alfred Egerton Cooper (1883-1974), showing Churchill in white tie wearing the Order of Merit (awarded 1946) and other decorations. We believe this was almost certainly worked up from sketches taken while Cooper was at Chartwell in 1947, working on a life-size portrait which was donated to the Junior Carlton Club in 1950; club records are, unfortunately, unable to reveal the name of the donor. Cooper's finished oil shows Churchill "at home in a familiar and informal setting: a sunny corner of Chartwell executed in a very loose, painterly style akin to that adopted by Churchill in his own paintings" (Gabriel). Our portrait was perhaps executed at the request of an admirer of Churchill, such as Sir Edward Mountain (1872-1950), founder of Eagle Star Insurance, who donated Cooper's famous "Profile for Victory" portrait to the Carlton in 1948 and "had himself been painted by Cooper, a close friend who often joined him for salmon fishing in Scotland" (ibid.); Mountain was also part of the group that bought and presented Chartwell to the nation in 1947.
Cooper "studied at the Royal College of Art where he won a prize judged by John Singer Sargent. Sargent was most impressed with Cooper and offered him a job as his studio assistant; the contacts he made in this way enabled him to have a long and successful career as a portrait painter" (National Portrait Gallery). The NPG has two oil portraits by Cooper (Sir Barnes Wallis and John Moore-Brabazon) and a collotype of the "Profile for Victory" portrait. The latter was a personal favourite of Churchill and it is therefore not surprising that Cooper executed a total of four portraits of the great statesman - as Gabriel points out, "Cooper succeeded where many others failed: the Great Man liked all his works".
This is a highly appealing portrait from a period when Churchill was out of office but spending a great deal of time at Chartwell, concerning himself with the maintenance of the house and estate and, with protean energy, throwing himself into the writing of The Second World War.
Well-finished portrait study en grisaille (image size 430 x 340 mm) wash and body-colour, pencil under-drawing and shading, initialled and dated by the artist; now window-mounted and presented in a wooden frame, glazed with Artshield UV resistant perspex.
Paper somewhat browned, the image in fine condition.
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