An original wartime press photograph of Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill leaving Downing Street on 5 October 1940 with Clement Attlee and Ernest Bevin during the final weeks of the Battle of Britain
An original wartime press photograph of Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill leaving Downing Street on 5 October 1940 with Clement Attlee and Ernest Bevin during the final weeks of the Battle of Britain

An original wartime press photograph of Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill leaving Downing Street on 5 October 1940 with Clement Attlee and Ernest Bevin during the final weeks of the Battle of Britain

London: The Daily Telegraph, 5 October 1940. Photograph. This original press photograph captures Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill leaving Downing Street on 5 October 1940 with Clement Attlee and Ernest Bevin during the final weeks of the Battle of Britain. The gelatin silver print on matte photo paper measures 6.5 x 8.5 inches (16.5 x 21.6 cm). Condition is very good. The paper is crisp, clean, and free of scuffing with only light edge wear. This photograph belonged to the working archives of The Daily Telegraph and features their Art Department’s original, hand-applied airbrushing behind Churchill to isolate him in print as well as original crop markings. The verso bears an obscured copyright stamp, a published stamp of The Daily Telegraph dated 5 OCT 1940, two used stamps of the Sunday Telegraph dated 3 JAN and 20 MAY, copious handwritten printing notations and a newspaper clipping of the caption as it appeared in print reading, “The Prime Minister leaving Downing-street with Mr. Ernest Bevin (left), the Minister of Labour, and Mr. C. R. Attlee, Lord Privy Seal.” When Churchill became Prime Minister in May 1940, the war for Britain was not so much a struggle for victory as a struggle to survive. Churchill’s first year in office saw, among other near-calamities, the Battle of the Atlantic, the fall of France, evacuation at Dunkirk, and the Battle of Britain. Hitler intended the Battle of Britain as the preparatory effort to gain air superiority prior to an invasion of England. The question was far from settled when this photograph was taken. Indeed, at the time this photo was taken, invasion by Nazi Germany remained a credible threat as the Luftwaffe onslaught reached a crescendo in October. Just one month earlier, on 4 September 1940, Hitler gave a speech in Berlin promising to “erase their [Britain’s] cities from the earth” in response to “Herr Churchill’s” promise to increase attacks on German cities. On 7 September the Luftwaffe commenced the Blitz; by the day’s end the Germans had dropped 447 tons of bombs on London, killing 448 civilians. For the following 57 days London was relentlessly bombed. Gilbert notes that “During the week ending on noon on September 26, more than 1,500 civilians had been killed in Britain, 1,300 of them in London.” (Vol. VI, 812) Nevertheless, Churchill projected confidence. In a 24 September letter to Chamberlain he wrote, “I do not think that they will continue at their present height for many weeks… Let us go on together through the storm. These are great days.” (ibid.) RAF pilots fought off the Luftwaffe onslaught, thereby almost single-handedly securing England. Churchill encapsulated and immortalized the struggle when he uttered the words: "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.” During the first half of the twentieth century, photojournalism grew as a practice, fundamentally changing the way the public interacted with current events. Newspapers assembled expansive archives, including physical copies of all photographs published or deemed useful for potential future use, their versos typically marked with ink stamps and notes providing provenance and captions. Photo departments would often take brush, paint, pencil, and marker to the surface of photographs themselves to edit them before publication. Today these photographs exist as repositories of historical memory, technological artifacts, and often striking pieces of vernacular art. Item #005217

Price: $180.00

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