American actress Angelina Jolie is selling the only painting created by Winston Churchill during World War II for a price in the region of £1.5 million to £2.5 million (US$2.05 million to US$3.42 million).
The painting, Tower of the Koutoubia Mosque , is being sold by the Jolie Family Collection as part of Christie’s modern British art auction in London on March 1. It’s expected to set a price record at auction for Churchill, an accomplished amateur artist who served as prime minister of the U.K. from 1940 to 1945, and again from 1951 to 1955.
Jolie, 45, who could not be reached for comment, bought the painting with her former husband, Brad Pitt , in 2011 for an undisclosed amount. The pair divorced in 2019.
The first owner of the painting was U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt , who received the painting as a gift from Churchill, according to Christie’s.
In January 1943, Churchill invited Roosevelt to join him in Marrakech the day after the Casablanca Conference concluded, motivated by his desire to share views of the city and the light at sunset. The view impressed Roosevelt so much that Churchill decided to capture the scene for him as a memento of their excursion, according to Christie’s.
The painting, which depicts the 12th-century mosque in Marrakech at sunset, with the Atlas Mountains in the background, is arguably the best by Churchill, according to Nick Orchard , head of modern British art department at Christie’s, because of “the significance of the subject matter to him, and the fact that it highlights the importance of the friendship between the two leaders.”
Churchill began painting scenes of Morocco after being encouraged to visit the country by his painting tutor, Sir John Lavery . Inspired by its unrivalled light and scenery, Churchill created some 45 paintings of the country.
One of his earliest paintings of Marrakech, , circa 1935, which Churchill gifted to his field marshal Bernard Law Montgomery , will also be offered during Christie’s London sale. It has a presale estimate of between £300,000 and £500,000.