Winston Churchill remembrance. The fascinating collection of Mary Soames at Sotheby’s auction. On December 17 2014 in London.
On 17th December, Sotheby’s London will present a major sale of paintings and objects from the estate of ‘one of the most outstanding women of her era’ – the late Mary Soames. The last surviving child of Winston Churchill, Mary Soames witnessed first hand, and often close by her father’s side, many of the key moments of 20th-century history. One of the first ‘gunner girls’ to sign up in the war, she also acted as Churchill’s confidante and ADC, giving her unique contact with leading figures such as de Gaulle, Eisenhower, Montgomery and Roosevelt. Her collection, which includes an exceptional group of Churchill paintings, charts both her own fascinating life and that of her father.
On her death in May this year, Mary Soames bequeathed her fascinating and extensive personal papers to the Churchill Archives Centre at Churchill College Cambridge. The centre’s director, Allen Packwood, said: “These unique resources complement the papers of Sir Winston Churchill and help complete our picture of the public and private life of the greatest Briton of modern times and those who were closest to him.” It was also Lady Soames’ wish that the important Winston Churchill paintings and other memorabilia she had loaned to Chartwell, her childhood home (now owned by the National Trust), and to other public venues, should stay in place and on public view. Consequently, this body of 38 paintings, described by art historian David Coombs as “a national treasure of major historical and artistic importance”, will be offered to the nation in lieu of inheritance tax.
Sotheby’s sale in London in December will include many of the personal possessions that Mary Soames lived with in her home in Holland Park. Together, they chart her fascinating life – from her childhood at Chartwell to her service in the army during World World II and her later public and private life – and chronicle the remarkable relationship Mary enjoyed with her father, allowing for a unique and very moving insight into the private side of Britain’s great war-time leader. At the same time, Churchill’s exceptional ability as a painter is celebrated in the sale through 15 paintings, the most important and personal group of his paintings ever to come to the market.
Video: Daughter of History: Mary Soames and the Legacy of Churchill.