Thursday, February 24, 2011

Hitler, Eisenhower and Churchill landscape paintings

Three amateur painters once decided the fate of the world. Above is a watercolor by Adolf Hitler, who was quite prolific. He estimated he had made over a thousand paintings. Most of them were small souvenir type watercolors, many done quickly to be sold cheaply. The phrase "painting a day" had not been coined, but that is essentially what he was doing. Hitler actually sold paintings as a young man and prior to WWI was trying to become an artist. He continued painting all of his life. Given the level of training common among working artists of his generation, he would probably not have been competitive in the marketplace.
Hitler applied to the Vienna Art Academy and submitted his painting. He was rejected


Eisenhower never painted until he was fifty eight. He was impressed by a painter who did his portrait, so Ike took up painting as a hobby. He kept a small studio in and upper floor of the White House. A total amateur, he copied photographs and other artists paintings. I suspect the one I have posted here is done from a Robert Wood. He often gave his paintings to friends and used one for a White House Christmas card. Fail!

Winston Churchill started painting when he was forty years old. He had a sister in Law who painted and started with her. he was fortunate to receive some instruction from John Lavrey a well known English painter of his day. Churchill painted a lot and actually got pretty good ast it. Better than this landscape might suggest. Some of his paintings have sold for a million dollars. But thats because of the signature and not their quality. An argument could be made that Churchill was the best painter of the three.
Churchill did a lot of things well, he was an excellent writer a statesman of course and also laid brick as a hobby, building long haw-haws in his yard.

29 comments:

jeff said...

I once went out with the woman many years ago who's father was a portrait painter who did a fair amount of portraits of Eisenhower. His name was Essig I don't recall the first name.

He had passed away by the time we were going out but I do remember being in her family home and they had few of the Eisenhower portraits around as well as a host of others.

The sketch books from WW2 the were full of great drawings of this mans war experience. He was an official war artist so it was a lot of officers and things like that. But he also did a lot of drawings of soldiers and the machines of war that were pretty compelling.

I wonder if this was the painter.

Gregory Becker said...

I like Hitler's the best

Bernie's Art said...

Churchill did many many paintings. The one shown is nowhere near his best. If you can ever visit his home Chartwell, a National Trust property now, you can visit his studio and see a lot of his work. The painter who taught him was actually Sir John Lavery, who was a first class painter himself. Painting was one of the ways that he conquered the depression that he always suffered from, his Black Dog, as he called it.

Incidentally both the Duke of Edinburgh and Charles, Prince of Wales, are both very good watercolourists. The latter is well upto exhibition standard.

Lucy said...

Fascinating, and better than everything I saw yesterday in Chelsea. (NYC)

Durinda Cheek, Fine Artist said...

Paul Harvey (remember him?) used to tell a fascinating story of two boys with very different backgrounds but great interests in art. They grow up, one becomes one of the greatest artists of all times despite his dismal beginnings and the other becomes the most hated man in history despite all his privileges. Who were they? DaVinci and Hitler.

mariandioguardi.com said...

I was just talking about Churchill's painting...and wondering they looked like. He was an amazing man with am amazing life. as British as we think he is, his mother was American.

I am a little late on this thread...but there is news breaking information on Caravaggio- the Italians JUST released the actual, handwritten records of his all his arrests, Vatican dealings , etc which also clarify his death. He died in a hospital and they have his death record. That mystery is solved. He was bad to the bone. Great painter.

billspaintingmn said...

I not a bit like Caravaggio,but as a kid, I would scrap with other kids, I punched em in the mouth to stop the fights.
I would have punched Hitler in the mouth, but I wasen't born till the 50's.
My big brothers' name is Ike!

billspaintingmn said...

What's a Haw haw?

Deborah Paris said...

Churchill wrote a wonderful little book called Painting as a Pastime in which he talked about how he came to paint and why it is such a wonderful thing to "take a joyride in a paintbox". Well worth reading.

Kessie said...

Didn't the art academy that rejected Hitler tell him that he "had no imagination"? I always wonder if history might have been different had he been accepted there.

It's funny that all of them painted, though, with varying degrees of success.

Linda Schweitzer said...

Thanks for the post. I had not seen Eisenhower's painting before. A really good movie about Hitler and his obsession with art is "The Rape of Europa" Art, or Hitler's perception of it, had much to do with WWII.

Terry said...

Hi Stape,
This may be of interest, when I was15 my father was transfered to Morocco with the Strategic Air Command 1957. There was no place for families at the base so we rented a home in Marrakesh. The home was in a garden built by Louis Majorelle, a wellknown French painter (it was French Morocco at that time) of large figure paintings, very painterly. He was married several times and not willing to forego his garden, he would just build a new home for himself and his new wife adjoining the garden (each with a large studio, leaving the previous studio as it was the day he moved on!) I think there were 5 when I lived there. The garden was a child's delight paths wandered past pools and waterfalls under a dense forest of greenery and exotic plants and....a swimming pool! All this behind a thick high wall in the middle of a desert. There was another family with girls the age of I and my little sister and they would come to play and stay the night, perfect....until one day we were swimming happily and the servants brought a heavyset man poolside and helped him into a chair, lit his cigar and set up a french easel! He thoroughly enjoyed watching us (I can see that now!) we were horrified and went crying to the house complaining about the 'dirty' old man at the pool! Of course it was Churchill and he spent time there the winters of '57 and '58, while we sulked in the house! He loved to paint plein aire and the artists he painted with, all painted from life.
His work is much better than the one here, very much in the french impressionist manner.
Thank you again for this wonderful blog, Terry

Stephanie Berry said...

I love all these comments. My mom has that small book about Churchill's painting where he talks about not being timid in painting. He was a good painter but truly a great man and statesman that piloted the free world through the horror Hitler created. Where did that bust of him that the UK gave us go to????

Stapleton Kearns said...

Jeff:
I ran into the name the other night in my research, of course now I can't find it.
.................Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

Gregory;
I dislike them all.
.................Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

Bernie:
Yes I know, but I am limited to what I can find online. I am reticent to scan books into the computer and then put things online.
....................Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

Lucy;
I am not surprised.
.................Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

Durinda:
Paul Harvey, with "the rest of the story". Great delivery system.
..................Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

Marian;
I stumbled into that also. I think it is only some of his record. It doesn't really do him credit.
................Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

Bill; As kids we sang a song to the tune of "Whistle while you work" that described Mussolini inflicting peculiar damage upon Hitlers private parts. I bet that has gone from children's knowledge now.
.....................Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

Bill;
A Haw-Haw is a ditch bricked otr lined with stone on one side and open on the other, set into a slope. It allows land sloping away from a home to be terraced yet the divisions are invisible from the house.
..................Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

Deborah;
That guy wrote about everything.
..............Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

Kessie:
What if Stalin had remained in the seminary?
...................Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

Linda;
I will have to watch that movie.
..............Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

Terry;
That is a great story!
.................Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

Stephanie;
Don't get me started.
..................Stape

Lucy said...

Thanks for this fascinating post. I recently got to see some churchill paintings at the DMA in dallas... its very interesting to see the three put together.

Bernie's Art said...

There was a character called Lord Haw Haw during the war. He was a British traitor, who worked for the Nazis, broadcasting propaganda to the UK every day, telling us how we were losing the war. he was caught after the war and executed as a traitor.

Mrs. Prior said...

Enjoyed your comments about these three artists.