A small bronze statue of Sir Winston Churchill, widely regarded as the greatest Briton to have ever lived, came to auction on April 5th at Duke’s in Dorchester.
The statue, which measures 59cm high, is by the sculptor Oscar Nemon (1906-1985), who was greatly admired by Churchill and became a friend and confidant of the statesman. According to Nemon, Churchill was not an easy subject and he could be “bellicose, challenging and deliberately provocative”; which meant that Nemon would often approach sittings with great trepidation. As a fellow artist, however, Nemon and Churchill developed a great rapport, which went beyond the conventional relationship between sitter and artist.
Guy Schwinge of Duke’s commented: “This stunning bronze is the ultimate depiction of Churchill. It is the original bronze maquette for the full-size statue of Churchill in the Members’ Lobby at the Palace of Westminster. Additional bronzes were produced subsequently but this is a one-off and, as such, it is of great importance.”
President Barack Obama with the Speakers of the House of Commons and the House of Lords in the Members’ Lobby, May 2011
The statue was offered at Duke’s by the family of the Tory grandee and businessman, Sir Edward du Cann. Du Cann met Churchill in his early days as a conservative candidate and went on to become an influential member of the party who, in his capacity as Chairman of the 1922 Committee, was instrumental in the appointment of Margaret Thatcher as the first female leader of an English political party. She went on to be elected the first female Prime Minister in 1979.
Sir John Langford-Holt admiring the bronze macquette offered here
Sir Edward du Cann acquired the statue from the Conservative MP Sir John Langford-Holt (1916-1993) who had acquired it himself from the sculptor, Oscar Nemon.
Sir John Langford-Holt with Sir Edward Heath at the unveiling of Oscar Nemon’s statue of Winston Churchill, 2nd December 1969.
Guy Schwinge added: “It is so compelling to have all the supporting paperwork from the family contained in a specially produced green leather box folio. The box only came to light recently. The contents are of the utmost importance because they include photographs of Sir John Langford-Holt with the statue and a letter from Oscar Nemon confirming that the statue is “The first cast in bronze of the scale model of the statue of Sir Winston Churchill …. unveiled in the Members Lobby of the House of Commons on 1st December 1969 by his widow, Lady Spencer-Churchill.” The letter is written on House of Commons notepaper and is dated 1st December 1969.”
Oscar Nemon was not only admired by Churchill, but also by his wife, Clementine. It was she who spotted his ability to capture a likeness. She observed that a small bust of her husband “ ….. 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.”
According to Guy Schwinge the auctioneers have already received interest from collectors in the United States. “Winston Churchill is an icon of the 20th century, and we expect interest from a global audience.”
The auction took place at Duke’s of Dorchester on April 5th.
For more inforation please contact Guy Schwinge