National Geographic : 1965 Aug
( ThHE CULTIVATION of a hobby... a policy of first importance to a public man." Churchill tiles the roof of a cottage he helped build at Chartwell (op posite). During his long period out of power, he took up bricklaying as a serious pastime. (( ROM THE OUTSET I was 1 deeply interested in the air and vividly conscious of the changes which it must bring to every form of war." Britain's national survival later hinged on the air power Churchill worked so hard to develop. He took flying instruction, but gave it up after a crash in 1919, though all his life he continued to fly fre quently as a passenger. Here he leaves a plane in 1939 during an inspection of No. 615 Auxiliary Squad ron, of which he was Hon orary Air Commodore. HE BLACK-DRAPED DRUMS throbbed and the feet of the marchers scuffed the pavement in slow, measured pace as the procession curved into Trafalgar Square. The figure of Nelson, high on its 145 foot column, dominated the scattered statues of kings and generals and admirals who had won lands beyond the seas for England. The names on the buildings-Canada House, Uganda House, South Africa House, Malaysia House-rang with the echo of empire. The man on the gun carriagehad shared in old campaigns and old glories. He merited a place among the heroes. And one day he might also merit a place in the long, low build ing that stretches across Trafalgar Square's northern edge-the National Gallery. Winston Churchill, man of many talents and master of most, added still another fol lowing his dismissal from the Admiralty in 1915. The soft English summer drew him to Surrey on weekends. After toying with his children's paintbox, he bought himself an elaborate set of paints. One morning he sat in the sun before a virgin canvas. Carefully, hesi tantly, he made a tiny daub of blue where the sky would be. Then he stopped, overwhelmed by the challenge of the empty canvas. Unexpectedly, the wife of the well-known artist Sir John Lavery came by. "Painting!" she exclaimed. "But what are you hesitating about? Let me have a brush-the big one." Churchill watched as she slashed the can vas with broad strokes of blue. "The spell was broken," he wrote. "The sickly inhibi tions rolled away. I seized the largest brush and fell upon my victim with Berserk fury. I have never felt any awe of a canvas since." In 1921, under the pseudonym of Charles Morin, he exhibited five landscapes in Paris. Four sold promptly at £30 each. In 1947, the Royal Academy accepted two of his works, submitted under the name Mr. Winter. Two years later, one of his finest efforts, "The Blue Sitting Room, Trent Park," was sold for charity. A Brazilian bought it for £1,310, declaring he would have bid £13,000 if necessary. The Royal Academy named Churchill an Honorary Academician Extraor dinary-an unprecedented tribute. In 48 years with brush and canvas, Church ill completed more than 500 paintings. To the end, he did it purely for pleasure.