“YOU have a medium at your disposal which offers real power,” wrote Winston Churchill in his essay “Painting as a Pastime”, “if you can find out how to use it.” Britain’s wartime leader came late to the hobby he used to relax, first picking up a brush in 1915 to distract himself after the disasters of Gallipoli. Over the next half-century he painted more than 500 daubs, as he called them, giving a few to lucky friends such as Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower.
Now the largest exhibition of them in America since 1965, according to Churchill’s great-grandson, Duncan Sandys, has opened at the Millennium Gate Museum in Atlanta. Thirty-three pictures appear on the walls of the building, itself lavishly designed to resemble Rome’s Arch of Titus, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the statesmans death in January 2015. Their appearance in Georgia is linked both to Mr Sandys’s current residence in the state and the family’s past there. James Oglethorpe, Georgia’s founder, learned military tactics from John Churchill, eventually the 1st Duke of Marlborough, in the 18th century. Churchill himself visited the state several times, delighting in what he saw. “What lovely country surrounds the city of Atlanta! Its rich red soils, the cotton-quilted hills and uplands, the rushing, turgid rivers, all are alive with tragic memories of the Civil War,” he enthused in “Land of Corn and Lobsters”.