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Image of Winston Churchill

Yousuf Karsh
Canadian, born Armenia, 1908–2002

Winston Churchill


Object Type: Photograph
39 3/8 in. x 30 in. (100.01 cm x 76.2 cm)
Medium and Support: Gelatin silver print on paper
Accession Number: 1996.0005.0002

Credit Line: Gifted to the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts by the artist in honor of Museum Director, Mark M. Johnson
Copyright: © Estate of Yousuf Karsh

Winston Churchill (1874–1965) This portrait brought Karsh instant international fame. It was made immediately after Churchill had addressed the Canadian House of Commons on December 30, 1941. The appointment had been squeezed into Great Britain’s prime minister’s schedule, so he was surprised to find Karsh awaiting him, camera and lights at the ready. He begrudgingly granted two minutes for one photo. Karsh asked him to remove his ubiquitous cigar and when he did not, the photographer respectfully removed it for him, having decided in advance that the man needed no props. When Karsh returned to the camera and saw Churchill scowling, he instinctively released the shutter. Churchill realized he’d been “Karshed” (a term then not yet in common usage), smiled, and said, “you may take another.” Karsh did, but Churchill’s saccharine smile in it does not compare with the first portrait, which soon appeared in Life magazine and countless other periodicals, becoming emblematic of all England’s fierce grit and fortitude. Churchill then shook the artist’s hand and said, “you can certainly make a roaring lion stand still.”

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