The initial communication came to us from William Murray, son of Detective Edmund Murray, Winston Churchill's bodyguard from 1950 until Churchill's death in 1965, and the man entrusted with setting up (and taking down) Sir Winston's easel and painting implements wherever in the world Churchill happened to be. Mr. Murray (the younger) and Chartwell Booksellers are old friends.
"Recently I found this damaged Winston Churchill painting of Lake Louise, Canada, amongst my father's own paintings," Mr. Murray recently wrote. "I can remember seeing Dad bring this picture home many years ago and show it to us, after which it disap-peared. I understood that the painting had been damaged somehow in the studio at Chartwell and set aside for disposal. Dad asked if he could keep it and permission was given."
What an extraordinary discovery! The painting, which measures 13 x 20 inches, is unsigned - as was Churchill's frequent practice - but strongly resembles two other paintings that Churchill painted on site at Lake Louise, Canada in 1929 during his cross country tour of North America in the company of his son Randolph, his brother Jack, and his nephew, Johnny. Both of those paintings appear in the catalogue raisonné, Sir Winston Churchill's Life Through His Paintings, by David Coombs and Minnie Churchill.
We contacted the esteemed Mr. Coombs, our foremost authority on Winston Churchill the painter, who told us the following: "I have no reason to doubt its likely authenticity given...its having been originally owned by Sergeant Murray himself. The inscription "LAKE LOUISE CANADA" on the bottom left-hand side of the front of the canvas is, I would guess, a later addition, perhaps by Edmund Murray? The painting...would be of quite significant interest."
Though the painting is clearly damaged, the oil paint is stable. Mr. Murray has framed the painting in a very effective open mat fashion. As he points out: "It really does look very presentable in spite of the obvious damage."
Come view "LAKE LOUISE CANADA," currently on exhibit in our shop window. It is the first Churchill painting that we have ever publicly offered for sale.
55 East 52nd Street · New York City 10055
In the arcade of the Park Avenue Plaza Building
Between Park & Madison Avenues