Just Days after His Historic “Iron Curtain” Speech, Churchill Signs His Famous Karsh Image During an Appearance at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel

Signed by Winston Churchill

$12,500
Item: 11678
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CHURCHILL, WINSTON. (1874-1965). British statesman and author; Prime Minister from 1940-45 and 1951-55. Signed menu. (“Winston Churchill”). 10pp. Large 4to. New York, March 15, 1946. A Cartier-printed menu for a dinner honoring Churchill hosted by New York City at the Waldorf Astoria. The menu’s cover is crowned by the red, blue and gold embossed coat of arms of the United Kingdom, and a photogravure of Karsh’s famous portrait signed by Churchill, which serves as its frontispiece, all of which is bound by a blue-and-white knotted silk cord. The menu prints excerpts from two of Churchill’s most famous addresses: his first speech as prime minister (“I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat…”) and his speech from June 4, 1940, following the evacuation of Dunkirk, (“We shall never surrender…”). Beneath these passages is a drawing of his trademark “V for Victory” hand gesture.

Though lauded for leading his nation to victory during World War II, Churchill was soundly defeated at the polls in 1945. Britain’s elder statesman, however, refused to retire and continued to champion the cause of domestic security and international peace. During this interregnum, Churchill spent the first months of 1946 in the United States, notably delivering his famous “iron curtain” speech in Fulton, Missouri, on March 5, 1946, just ten days prior to his New York Waldorf appearance. In what was a defining moment of the Cold War, he had coined the phrases “iron curtain,” declaring: “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an Iron Curtain has descended across the continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia, all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere.”

Newsreel of Churchill’s 1946 visit to NYC and Waldorf Astoria speech

 

Karsh’s Alternate Portrait Photograph

Our menu was signed ten days after the speech, while “reverberations from it were still being felt,” (Churchill Style: The Art of Being Winston Churchill, Singer). The response to his speech “was almost as hostile as the reaction in Britain had been to his initial warnings about Hitler. In 1946, however, the hostility was worldwide. Once more Churchill was attacked as a war monger, an attention seeker, an egoist – out of office and out of touch with the new postwar world… Churchill, however, was content. The Soviet threat disturbed him profoundly; the opinion of the world did not,” (ibid.). Because of his controversial remarks, shortly before the New York event, President Truman’s representative, Undersecretary of State Dean Acheson, declined to attend as did the representatives from the Russian and Polish embassies. However, New York provided day-long festivities culminating in the dinner hosted by Governor Thomas Dewey and Mayor William O’Dwyer.

Though defeated a second time in 1950, Churchill was victorious in 1951 and once again took the position of Prime Minister until poor health prompted his resignation in 1955. He remained a Member of Parliament until 1964, a year before his death.

Canadian photographer Yousef Karsh (1908-2002), one of the world’s leading portraitists, captured his iconic images of Churchill in 1941, just after an address to the Canadian Parliament. Given only a few moments to photograph him, Karsh audaciously removed a cigar from Churchill’s mouth forever memorializing his indignant expression on film. Churchill is reputed to have said, “You can even make a roaring lion stand still to be photographed,” which led Karsh to entitle the portrait “The Roaring Lion.” Churchill rarely signed his most familiar image, which in May 1945, graced the cover of Life magazine. In excellent condition and rare in this format.


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