The Crown's portrayal of Winston Churchill boosted value of his paintings, experts claim 

The Crown's portrayal of Winston Churchill boosted value of his paintings, experts claim 

John Lithgow’s sympathetic portrayal of the leader in Netflix hit The Crown is helping to drive interest in the artworks

John Lithgow as the wartime leader 
John Lithgow as the wartime leader  Credit: Netflix

Paintings by Winston Churchill are increasing in value after The Crown’s sympathetic portrayal of the Prime Minister motivated a new market for his artworks.

The wartime leader began painting as a relief from the strain of politics but continued into his retirement, and his more than 500 creations were usually given as gifts to friends.

These inherited works which once sold for around £5000 to enthusiasts are now going under the hammer for six and seven-figure sums.

A painting featuring the goldfish at his Chartwell home sold for £1.8 million in 2014, and an oil and canvas depiction of his favourite whiskey this year went for £983,000 - five times its estimated price.

John Lithgow’s sympathetic portrayal of the leader in Netflix hit The Crown is helping to drive interest in the artworks for a new generation, experts believe.

Auctioneers have said that Churchill’s on-screen portrayal and the former Prime Minister's artworks present an attractively apolitical and gentle side to his character.

Sotheby’s expert Simon Hucker said: “What The Crown does is bring these figures from British political history very much to life – and makes them very human.

“John Lithgow portrayed Churchill as this warm and genial old man, guiding the young Queen as best he can, whilst his own health fades and perhaps it is this side of Churchill that people see in his paintings.”

Jug with Bottle recently sold for almost £1 million 

Churchill was “not precious” about painting which was for him a gentle retreat from the rigours of politics, particularly in his “wilderness years” in the 1930's when he was out of power and favour.

One image from this era, Jug with Bottle, depicts the politician’s preferred Johnny Walker brand of whiskey, and was given to US special envoy W. Averell Harriman as a gift.

As with other works it has emerged from the private ownership of friends and their descendants, and it was sold in November for £983,000.  

In 2017 a Study of Roses  gifted by Churchill to Vivien Leigh fetched £638,750 after being valued at £70,000.

A Winston Churchill painting of Marrakech from one of his painting holidays

More of these emerging works are nearing this million-pound mark and experts believe this indicates a new market, with previous collectors in 1982 paying just £5,500 for A View Of Marrakech created on one of Churchill’s painting holidays

In 1991 the politician’s piece The Scuola Di San Marco In Venice fetched £36,000, far below the current valuations of his work.

Most works are landscapes painted when he was staying with friends or at his beloved Chartwell home in Kent, and depict simple domestic objects that he would ask his children to gather up for him from around the house.

Tourettes sur Loup painted by Winston Church

While The Crown may have driven interest in Churchill, Mr Hucker believes this domesticity and simplicity are a big draw for collectors.

He said: “His paintings are very quiet and incidental, not grand ‘history paintings’ or works with a political narrative, they are about the side of his life that Lithgow’s portrayal focuses on.

“What really fascinates collectors is that these paintings provided a respite from his political life and that they are so personal.

“We tend to view Churchill only in political terms, always there during great shifts in history. Churchill, in his writing, no doubt perpetuated that image, but therein lies the difference between Churchill the writer and Churchill the painter.”