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Framed SIGNED and DATED FORMAL WARTIME PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPH of Winston Churchill as Prime Minister


By: Walter Stoneman

6 x 8 inches [on 7 1/2 x 10 1/2 inch card mount] (Black & white vintage print)

Item Number: 13051


One of the most powerful photographs of Winston Churchill ever made, an image with the gravitas of Karsh’s classic “Roaring Lion.” Walter Stoneman (1876-1958) regularly photographed Winston Churchill for the eminent portrait firm J. Russell & Sons. Churchill frequently used Stoneman’s bust-length portraits as his official photographs. Stoneman, however, was not working for J. Russell & Sons but rather for the National Photographic Record when he arrived at 10 Downing Street on the 1st of April, 1941 and was escorted up to the Cabinet Room.

Sensing the historical significance of the sitting, Stoneman that day recorded not just the date but the hour that his picture was taken: “3pm, 1 April 1941.” At this moment, Churchill was awaiting word of Germany’s invasion of Yugoslavia. Decrypted German Enigma messages had not only enabled him to predict Germany’s Balkan plans, they had revealed to him Germany’s “magnitude of design,” as he termed it, against its ally, Russia. As a result, Churchill made the dangerous decision to send a personal message of warning to Joseph Stalin. It was a message that Stalin would choose to ignore.

Reputedly, a copy of this photograph was kept by Stalin on his desk in the Kremlin. Stoneman also presented a copy to the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery in London. It remains, without question, one of the most powerful photographs of Winston Churchill ever made, an image that predates Karsh’s portrait by almost nine months.

The National Photographic Record had been started in 1917 at Stoneman’s instigation. Eminent personalities of the day were invited to sit for Stoneman at his studio and from each sitting a single mounted print was added to the Record. This collection of postcard-sized prints grew over the years to an archive of over 10,000 subjects, with approximately 200 new subjects added each year. On this particular occasion, Stoneman dispensed with the studio visit altogether, for obvious reasons. The results speak for themselves.

This print measures 6 x 8 inches and is SIGNED and dated on the mount in ink: “Winston S. Churchill, 1943.”

There is light diagonal soiling in a limited area across the top of the photograph and between Churchill’s hands. There are also two faint dents in the print, on Churchill’s right lapel and in a blank area to his left. The print is otherwise in beautiful condition. It is here spectacularly framed in a linen mat (21 x 24 inches overall).