Rare COUNTRY HOUSE PHOTOGRAPH and AUTOGRAPH ALBUM
Containing Two Original Winston Churchill Signatures and a Never-Before-Seen Snapshot of Churchill in Painting Smock Beside F.E. Smith
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4to [15 7/8 x 11 7/8 inches] (28 pages (including blanks)
Hardcover [Green leather]
Churchill at Chartwell
This extraordinary, one-of-a-kind album documents with original snapshot photographs and guest book pages the social life before and after World War I of three English country houses: Cold Overton Hall, Reigate Priory, and Winston Churchill's favorite English retreat, Hartsbourne Manor, home to his mother's dear friend, the American actress, Maxine Elliott. Among the folio-sized album's 16 pages of approximately 100 vintage black and white snapshots and approximately 150 guest book signatures are two bold Churchill ink signatures, one on a guest book page beside Clementine Churchill's and Maxine Elliott's, the other on a guest book page near the signatures of Elliott and Churchill's dearest friend, Sir Frederick (F.E.) Smith. The album also contains a never-before-seen snapshot of Churchill and Smith side by side on the lawn at Hartsbourne Manor, with Churchill in his painting smock, clutching a pair of paintbrushes; certainly one of the earliest extant photographs of him as a painter. The album appears to have been compiled by Frances Margaret Montagu (identified as "M.M." throughout), at the time the wife of James Fountayne Montagu, the master of Cold Overton Hall. The photographs range from group and individual portraits, to shots of tennis games, horses, hounds and houses, most of which are identified in hand-lettered captions. The subjects include Elliott, Clementine Churchill, Muriel Wilson (the society beauty to whom Churchill, in his youth, once had proposed marriage), Nancy Cunard and Millicent, Duchess of Sutherland, among many others. Signatures include several of Harold Nicolson, Vita [Sackville-West] Nicolson, Nancy Cunard, Oswald Mosely and Diana Manners, along with the Churchills, Elliot and Smith.The album has been sumptuously rebound in full green Morocco leather with elaborate gilt tooling and marbled endpapers, all edges gilt, the spine gilt-tooled in six compartments with raised bands. The pages are damp-stained but stabilized and the photographs are vivid and in excellent condition. A priceless memento of a vanished age.
Bibliographic numbers (in parentheses) are from Frederick Woods' original Churchill bibliography (Woods), as emended by Richard Langworth in his Connoisseur's Guide; and from the new, greatly expanded Churchill bibliography by Ronald Cohen (Cohen).