A painting by Winston Churchill of a Moroccan sunset — a view he loved so much that he invited President Franklin D. Roosevelt to see it years later — is going on the auction block next week.
“Sunset Over the Atlas Mountains,” a vibrant landscape painted in 1935 from Churchill’s balcony at the Mamounia Hotel in Marrakech, is expected to bring at least $600,000 at Bonhams New York on April 23.
Churchill invited Roosevelt to travel with him to Marrakech after a conference in Casablanca in 1943 so he could experience the beautiful view for himself.
After Churchill’s death in 1965, the 20-inch-by-24-inch oil went to a daughter, Lady Sarah Audley, who sold it to a private collector in Texas, who in turn sold it in 1992 to the family of the current San Francisco owner, whose name Bonhams did not disclose.
Malcolm Walker, European paintings specialist at Bonhams, said the value of Churchill’s paintings has skyrocketed in the past year and a half. “He was as good as an amateur artist will get,” he said.
Churchill, who began painting for relaxation and loved working in brilliant colors, often did not sign his work so as not to influence judges, Walker said. “Sunset Over the Atlas Mountains” is not signed.
Walker said Churchill loved Morocco, which he visited often.
“Marrakech,” a work depicting the city’s gates against the backdrop of the Atlas mountains, was painted by Churchill in 1948 and presented to President Truman in 1951. It sold at auction for $949,918 in December 2007. Earlier that year, his painting “Chartwell Landscape With Sheep” sold for $2.06 million — a record for the artist.
The April 23 auction will be simulcast to Bonhams’ San Francisco salesroom.