Sir Winston Churchill’s paintings offered to the nation

Artwork by the former Prime Minister is being offered to the nation following the death of the politician's youngest daughter in May.

Thirty-eight of Sir Winston Churchill’s paintings have been offered to the nation under the Acceptance in Lieu scheme, whereby families may place important works of art in public ownership instead of paying Inheritance Tax on them.

The works, chiefly landscapes, are in the bequest of Churchill’s youngest daughter, Mary Soames, who died in May. Most of the paintings are at his former home, Chartwell in Kent, but others are on loan to places such as the House of Commons and the Imperial War Museum.

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Churchill took up painting when he was 40, finding it a comforting antidote to the burden of responsibility he felt, as First Lord of the Admiralty, for a disastrous Dardanelles campaign in the First World War.

He wrote: ‘Painting is a friend who makes no undue demands, excites no exhausting pursuits, keeps faithful pace even with feeble steps, and holds her canvas as a screen between us and the envious eyes of time and the surly advances of decrepitude.’ The Government, with the Arts Council, will make a decision on the offer later this year.

Sotheby’s is to sell another 15 of Churchill’s paintings, plus artefacts including a red Morocco- leather dispatch case (estimated at £5,000–£7,000), a Van Dyk photograph of FM Montgomery (£1,500–£2,000) and a cigar humidor (£1,000–£1,500), in a major sale in London on December 17. In 2007, his Chartwell Landscape with Sheep made a record £1 million at auction.