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Churchill Paintings Highlight Sotheby’s British Art Sale

A painting by Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965), Marrakech, circa 1948, fetched £468,500 ($957,520) at Sotheby’s London auction of 20th-century British art on Dec. 13.

NEW YORK—A painting by Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965), Marrakech, circa 1948, fetched £468,500 ($957,520) at Sotheby’s London auction of 20th-century British art on Dec. 13. In all, the sale realized £9.5 million ($19.3 million). Of the 196 works on offer, 147 found buyers. The sale was 75 percent sold by lot, 83.5 percent by value.

The Marrakech painting, which Churchill had given to U.S. President Harry S. Truman in 1951, was consigned for sale by Truman’s daughter Margaret Truman Daniel and carried an estimate of £300,000/500,000. The price was the third-highest for a work by Churchill, amid steadily rising prices in recent years.

This sale was followed by his circa 1930 A Village Fête, St. Georges-Motel, which brought £300,500 ($614,161), the midpoint of the £250,000/350,000 estimate.

Last summer Sotheby’s London posted the highest result to date for Churchill—£1 million ($2 million) for Chartwell Landscape with Sheep, ca. early 1940s. At that same auction another Marrakech landscape, Churchill’s Valley of the Ourika, near Marrakech, 1948, sold for £311,200 ($631,176), more than tripling the £200,000 high estimate (ANL, 7/24/07, pp. 6-7).

Also well-received at the December auction was a picture in watercolor and gouache by British artist Edward Burra (1905-76), Striptease, Harlem—an unusual subject for a British art sale but one that nonetheless drew a price of £490,900 ($1 million), generously exceeding the high estimate of £300,000.

Patrick Heron’s abstract Black Painting (Emerald Disc), March 1960, fetched £228,500, or $467,000 (estimate: £200,000/300,000).

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