Afraid of approaching him, Nemon studied the hero of the Second World War from across the room, making mental notes so that he could work on a small bust in his room.

We are grateful to Alice Nemon-Stuart and Aurelia Young for their kind assistance when writing this catalogue note.


Of all the artists who represented him, none was so prolific and influential in codifying Sir Winston Churchill’s image in sculpture as Oscar Nemon. This work is rare in Nemon’s oeuvre, however. Small in size, signed with Nemon’s initials, and seemingly a one-off cast, it would appear that this head study dates from the period shortly after Nemon first met Churchill during a holiday in Marrakesh in 1951.[1]

Oscar Nemon was one of the most highly regarded sculptors of his day. His long career would see him execute portraits of many of the most prominent figures of the twentieth century, including Sigmund Freud, the 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, Margaret Thatcher, Queen Elizabeth II, and, of course, Churchill.

Nemon had first met Churchill on a trip to Marrakesh, where he had travelled to visit a friend. In...


Read more

We are grateful to Alice Nemon-Stuart and Aurelia Young for their kind assistance when writing this catalogue note.


Of all the artists who represented him, none was so prolific and influential in codifying Sir Winston Churchill’s image in sculpture as Oscar Nemon. This work is rare in Nemon’s oeuvre, however. Small in size, signed with Nemon’s initials, and seemingly a one-off cast, it would appear that this head study dates from the period shortly after Nemon first met Churchill during a holiday in Marrakesh in 1951.[1]

Oscar Nemon was one of the most highly regarded sculptors of his day. His long career would see him execute portraits of many of the most prominent figures of the twentieth century, including Sigmund Freud, the 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, Margaret Thatcher, Queen Elizabeth II, and, of course, Churchill.

Nemon had first met Churchill on a trip to Marrakesh, where he had travelled to visit a friend. In an unpublished memoir, Nemon recalls how he first encountered Churchill at the dining room of the hotel in which he was staying. Afraid of approaching him, Nemon studied the hero of the Second World War from across the room, making mental notes so that he could work on a small bust in his room. When Clementine Churchill, Winston’s wife, was alerted to this, she had the artist send the bust over to their party; she found the result so impressive that she wrote to the artist asking to keep it. It should not, she requested, be altered as she had ‘seen so many portraits and busts spoilt by attempting to get an exact likeness. Your bust represents to me my husband as I see him and as I think of him, and I would like to have it just as it is’.[2]

This was to be the first of many sittings that Churchill made to Nemon. Beginning informally in Marrakesh, with studies made by Nemon as Churchill painted, these were then picked up again more formally in Britain from 1952, serving as the basis for a number of public commissions. The first of these was a marble commissioned at the express request of Elizabeth II for Windsor Castle, culminating with perhaps the greatest of all, the bronze that Nemon executed in 1969 for the Members’ Lobby of the Houses of Parliament, where it still stands, providing the background to the great spectacles of the British Parliament. Churchill was not an easy subject. He could be, in Nemon’s words, ‘bellicose, challenging, and deliberately provocative’, which meant that Nemon would often approach sittings with great trepidation.[3] But, as a fellow artist, Nemon and Churchill had a rapport that went beyond the conventional relationship between sitter and artist, with Nemon teaching Churchill how to sculpt, which he practised by making a portrait bust of the artist at his house in Chartwell, Kent.

The present work was probably gifted to Sir Percy MacKinnon, a British businessman who was a neighbour of the Churchills in Chartwell and who is known to have holidayed with Clementine.

[1] With thanks to Alice Nemon-Stuart and Aurelia Young for their thoughts on the dating of this work.

[2] O. Nemon, Memoir (unpublished), p. 62.

[3] Ibid., p. 65

Receive information about exhibitions, news & events.

We will process the personal data you have supplied in accordance with our privacy policy. You can unsubscribe or change your preferences at any time by clicking the link in any emails.

Receive information about exhibitions, news & events.

We will process the personal data you have supplied in accordance with our privacy policy. You can unsubscribe or change your preferences at any time by clicking the link in any emails.
Close

Basket

No items found
Close

Your saved list

This list allows you to enquire about a group of works.
No items found
Close
Mailing list signup

Get exclusive updates from Philip Mould Gallery

Close

Sign up for updates

Artwork enquiry

Receive newsletters

In order to respond to your enquiry, we will process the personal data you have supplied in accordance with our privacy policy. You can unsubscribe or change your preferences at any time by clicking the link in any emails.

Close
Search
Close
Close
500 Years of British Art