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Wartime Morocco painting by Sir Winston Churchill to be sold at auction

By Tom Horton
A wartime painting by Sir Winston Churchill is to be sold at auction.

The landscape, titled Tower Of The Koutoubia Mosque, is thought to be the only painting the former prime minister did as he led the country through the Second World War.

The 1943 work depicting the mosque in Marrakech, Morocco has been valued at between £1.5 million and £2.5 million by the Christie’s auction house and is being sold by the actress Angelina Jolie.

It was gifted by Sir Winston, who was a keen painter, to then US president Franklin D Roosevelt as a memento of the pair’s visit there following the Casablanca Conference of 1943, Christie’s said.

Nick Orchard, head of the modern British art department at the auction house, described the work as a “historically significant painting”.

“Tower Of The Koutoubia Mosque was created following the Casablanca Conference where it was agreed by the Allied forces that only complete surrender by the Axis powers would be acceptable,” he said.

“It is the only work that Churchill painted during the war, perhaps encouraged by the recent progress made by the Allies in what he considered to be one of the most beautiful countries he had encountered.

“Tower Of The Koutoubia Mosque is therefore arguably the best painting by Winston Churchill due to the significance of the subject matter to him, and the fact that it highlights the importance of the friendship between the two leaders.

“The gifting of the work to Roosevelt underlines the fact that Churchill held the American president in such high regard and points to their joint efforts in guiding the Allied powers to the outcome of the Second World War.”

Christie’s said Sir Winston created around 45 paintings depicting Moroccan landscapes after he was encouraged to visit the country by his art tutor Sir John Lavery.

However Tower Of The Koutoubia Mosque is the only painting the wartime leader created between 1939 and 1945, according to the auction house.

Throughout his life Sir Winston produced hundreds of canvases and his work has been exhibited at the Royal Academy.

Tower Of The Koutoubia Mosque will be sold on March 1.

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