The actress Angelina Jolie sold on Monday for 8,285,000 pounds (about 9.58 million euros, 11.5 million dollars) a painting that former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill painted in 1943 as a gift for former United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The landscape work, which went up for auction at Christie’s London headquarters with a starting price of £ 1 million, It is considered one of the most important paintings of the ‘premier’ and the only one he completed during World War II, a uniqueness that led the painting to fetch the highest price for a Churchill work at auction.
The painting, oil on canvas and 45.7 centimeters high by 61 wide, portrays the 12th century Marrakesh Koutoubia Mosque under a golden sunset silhouetted by the sinuous silhouette of the snowy Atlas Mountains.
Signed with the initials W.S.C., the work was a gift from Churchill to Franklin D. Roosevelt after the Casablanca Conference of 1943, where they agreed on the strategy to subdue Nazi Germany.
After ten days of the summit, the British leader invited his North American counterpart to accompany him to visit one of his favorite places. “You can’t go all this way to North Africa without seeing Marrakech (…) I have to be with you when you see the sunset in the Atlas MountainsChurchill said.
After five hours of travel, they arrived in the Moroccan city and Roosevelt was so captivated by that sunset that the ‘premier’ did not hesitate to extend his stay in Marrakech to immortalize the scene and offer it as a souvenir to the American president.
When Roosevelt passed away, the painting was inherited by his son, and since then it was passed through several owners until 2011, when it fell into the hands of the couple that previously formed Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.
A decade later, The Jolie Family Collection sold the work to the highest bidder on Monday, whose identity was not revealed., as part of an auction of modern British art in which two other paintings by the ‘premier’ were also awarded for 1.55 million pounds (about 1.8 million euros, 2.1 million dollars) and 880,000 pounds ( about a million euros, 1.2 million dollars).
The painting that Jolie treasured until today, entitled “Tower of the Koutoubia Mosque”, was highly esteemed by Churchill, who decided to give it to Roosevelt “as a memento of this brief interlude in the outbreak of war”, in the words of the leader himself. British, as noted in the auction catalog by historian Barry Phipps.
“[La pintura] it is commonly considered the most important of Winston Churchill, with its history woven into the history of the 20th century, ”remarked Phipps.
For his part, Christie’s representative Nick Orchard noted in a statement that “the gift to Roosevelt underscores the fact that Churchill held the US president in high regard and signals their joint efforts to guide the allied powers toward the end of the Second World War”.
The British leader began to recreate scenes from Morocco in 1935, when his painting tutor, John Lavery, encouraged him to visit the country.
Churchill valued the forty paintings he painted there, and especially those in Marrakech, as “a cut” above anything he had created to date, Phipps says.