Sir Winston Churchill loved Marrakech - for its warmth, its light and for the variety of subjects it offered his paint brush. Several friends, notably the painter Sir John Lavery, had recommended a visit to Morocco and his first visit was in the winter of 1935-6. Other lengthy trips to Marrakech followed giving Churchill the opportunity to write, which was his principal source of income, as well as to paint which was his most essential pastime.
In 1943, he paid a flying visit to the city with President Roosevelt, but it was not until the winter of 1950 that Churchill was able to go to Marrakech and to settle for a few comfortable weeks at the Mamounia Hotel. It was his 76th year and his fifth visit.
On this occasion, Sir Winston was aiming to complete the final volume, the sixth, of his memoirs The Second World War. As always, he also made plenty of time to paint - both in the city and its near surroundings.
The present painting is most likely to have been painted during his visit to Marrakech in December 1950 - January 1951. The Atlas Mountains in the background were a favourite subject; Churchill loved the challenges too of painting the desert outside the city and its green environs as well as its walls, although it is unusual to find all of these included prominently in a single painting.
Sir Winston rarely added his initials to his paintings and so this picture, which was found in his studio after his death, is likely to have had special meaning for him.
We are very grateful to David Coombs for preparing this catalogue entry.