Churchill’s Bottle of Whisky Makes £1 million – Scotch Whisky News

Churchill’s Whisky Sells for More Than a Wee Dram

1930s Painting of a Drinks Tray by Former Prime Minister
– Featuring a Bottle of his Favoured Johnnie Walker Black Label

Sells for £983,000 / $1,294,120 

London, 17 November – A rare 1930s painting by Sir Winston Churchill, Jugs and Bottles, combines two of the former Prime Minister’s greatest pastimes: painting and the enjoyment of alcoholic refreshment. Gifted by Churchill to Averell Harriman, and appearing at auction for the first time in 1997, it today sparked a bidding battle to sell for £983,000 – five times the pre-sale estimate of £150,000-250,000, and ranking among the top prices for a painting by Churchill at auction.

Churchill’s scotch of choice was Johnnie Walker, whose distinctive black and gold diagonal label is clearly evident on the bottle here, painted alongside a bottle of what appears to be brandy – the perfect backdrop to the translucent effect of the glasses and jugs set on a silver tray. The play of light and juxtaposition of objects clearly shoes the influence of famous still life painter, and friend of the family, Sir William Nicholson.

The choice of objects is evocative of the rhythm of life at Chartwell, Churchill’s beloved home in Kent, where he often brought associates from Westminster down for lunch, over which business, politics and current affairs would be passionately discussed. It is significant that Churchill gave this painting to Averell Harriman, by all accounts a larger-than-life personality and railroad heir who became involved in politics. Harriman served as a special envoy to Europe during the 1940s under Roosevelt when he had several meetings with Churchill and was then appointed Ambassador to the Soviet Union in October 1943.

The work leads Sotheby’s online auction of Modern & Post-War British Art, which saw a luminous, miniature sculpture by Dame Barbara Hepworth, carved from alabaster in 1962, bring £680,500 (est. £300,000-500,000) and a painting from Sir Stanley Spencer’s The Beatitudes of Love series sell for £620,000 (est. £80,000-120,000). Elsewhere in the sale, a 1944 portrait by Frank Owen Salisbury, who painted Churchill on more occasions than any other artist during his lifetime, sold for £113,400. 

Also closing today: Sotheby’s annual sale of Scottish Art, led by Samuel John Peploe’s Pink Roses (1906), which sold for £499,000 (est. £200,000-300,000).

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