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Churchill Versus Hitler As Painters: Guess Who Wins?

Winston Churchill painting

It is enough to restore one’s faith in art as well as humanity. Churchill might have had his human foibles, but he is justifiably and pretty much unanimously regarded as having been a better human being than Adolf Hitler. And according to art experts and auction houses, he was a much better painter, as well, as reported by Newsweek.

Last month two Churchill paintings were sold at Christie’s, and in December, there will be another 15. Ironically, this comes at a time when Churchill’s arch rival for the fate of the world, Adolf Hitler, had 3 paintings auctioned off last month.

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Churchill considered painting a hobby and a form of relaxation and therapy. He only produced one painting during WWII, but his output before and after the war years was prolific. They are also considered, by more than just a few art critics, to have been quite  good.

Of Churchill, whose paintings consisted mainly of landscapes and still lifes, Picasso said, “That man could have made a living if he didn’t have so many other things to do.” Just to ensure that the identity of the painter didn’t affect the judgment of the painting, one of Churchill’s paintings was submitted under a pseudonym and was  awarded a Royal Academy exhibition. The art historian Kenneth Clark has also praised Churchill’s work.

Like any artist, Churchill has his detractors. Chris Beetles said he was “a better bricklayer than he was an artist.” (the British Prime minister was actually a good bricklayer too). But Beetles added, “He buggered up his own work, ” saying that he laid it on bit thick with the brushstrokes.

Churchill’s paintings at Christie’s have sold for around a quarter million dollars, while Hitler’s works have commanded only a tenth of that amount. While critics may disagree over whether Churchill was a fine painter or not, there is little disagreement that Hitler was a bad painter.

Not surprisingly for a tyrant who condemned “decadent art work” his nudes sucked ( contrast this with Winston Churchill who, although he didn’t paint nudes, was an amateur nudist and would wander around 10 Downing Street, often  in the buff, according to rumor) “Hitler couldn’t get the human body right, ” said historic document dealer Richard Westwood-Brookes, “He did life studies for his failed applications to the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, but this one hasn’t got a face, and the proportions are not right.”

How ironic that one of the most infamous mass murderers in history applied to art school with life studies. Which he butchered, apparently.

Hitler’s watercolors of street scenes are like “insipid prints of beauty spots sold to tourists.” Hitler, desperate for money, painted copies of postcards and sold them to tourists as paintings. But it is not surprising that a fascist’s concept of art would not be even a notch above kitsch.

Well, a question that has bugging me all these years has been resolved, and I’m relieved to know that yes, Churchill was a better painter than Hitler.





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