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A painting of Winston Churchill, who was himself a painter. | Wiki­media Commons

Hillsdale College stu­dents may be familiar with the states­manship of Winston Churchill. But a new exhibit presents an oppor­tunity to acquaint them­selves with an aspect of Churchill’s life his biog­ra­phers may some­times neglect — painting.

“The Art of Winston Churchill” opened at the Daughtrey Gallery on Monday, Jan. 30, and will run through Friday, March 10. The trav­elling exhibit, orga­nized by the National Churchill Museum at West­minster College in Fulton, Mis­souri, fea­tures nine of Churchill’s paintings and a col­lection of mem­o­ra­bilia and arti­facts from Churchill’s life and times.

Churchill took up oil painting as a hobby in 1915 and con­tinued painting until 1958. Among his favorite sub­jects to paint were land­scapes, gen­erally in an impres­sion­istic style.

“Speaking as one that has painted land­scapes out­doors all my life, I look at Churchill’s land­scapes and see a kindred spirit,” Pro­fessor of Art Sam Knecht said. “In his work I con­sis­tently find notes of color and com­petent drawing that have the ring of truth. Beyond that, there is both gusto and richness of effects. Nothing wimpy, but seldom any­thing over­stated either.”

“Even though he painted external sub­jects, the man­agement of art ele­ments in his work invite the sense that each painting is a rev­e­lation of his inner spirit,” Knecht said.

Hillsdale College has a unique con­nection to the legacy of one of the 20th century’s greatest statesmen: Pres­ident Larry Arnn studied under Churchill’s official biog­rapher, the late Sir Martin Gilbert.

The college is also home to the Churchill Project, which is car­rying on Gilbert’s work. Cur­rently, the Churchill Project is in the process of pub­lishing the final six doc­u­mentary volumes in con­nection with the official biog­raphy — one of the longest ever written in the English lan­guage.

Since Monday, many stu­dents have already had a chance to see Churchill’s paintings.

“I think it’s neat to see art from people who aren’t nec­es­sarily artists,” senior Luke Robson, who attending the opening day of the exhibit, said. “We get to know Churchill through pol­itics and history, but this offers us an oppor­tunity to get to know a dif­ferent side of the man.”

Other stu­dents who have not seen the exhibit expressed their excitement about it.

“Painting isn’t pri­marily what Churchill is known for, but I’m excited to see the exhibit because his art will show a lot about how he thought — not just as a painter, but also as a statesman and a leader,” Josh Bailey, a sophomore who plans on vis­iting in the coming weeks, said.

Although Churchill is not con­sidered a world-class painter by most stan­dards, Hillsdale stu­dents have very warmly received his paintings on display this month.

“He’s actually pretty good,” said junior John Gage. “If someone showed me a Churchill painting without telling me who painted it, I might even believe it was a Monet.”

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Michael Lucchese
Michael Lucchese ‘18 is majoring in American Studies, and is a member of the Dow Journalism Program. In addition to the Collegian, he has also contributed to The Federalist, Acculturated, Conservative Review, and several other publications. In 2015, he reported on national security and foreign policy for Breitbart News. He also hosts a weekly radio show, The Michael Lucchese Show on Radio Free Hillsdale WRFH 101.7 FM. e-mail: mlucchese@hillsdale.edu Twitter: @MichaelLucchese
  • Gilbert Michaud

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