London: Copyright Central Press Photos Ltd., July 1959. Photograph. This original press photograph captures Sir Winston S. Churchill in the twilight of his life and career, attending the 20 July 1959 christening of his tenth grandchild, Rupert Soames, son of Winston’s youngest daughter, Mary. The gelatin silver print on heavy matte photo paper measures 10 x 8 in (25.4 x 20.3 cm). Condition is very good. The paper is clean, crisp, and free of scratches with some light edge wear confined to the margins. This press photo once belonged to the working archive of The Daily Telegraph, whose Art Department applied crop markings in the photograph's margins, as well as the handwritten margin notation "Pic No 20". The verso bears the copyright stamp of “Central Press Photos Ltd.”, a received stamp of The Daily Telegraph dated JUL 1959, a second stamp reading 15 JAN 1960, handwritten printing notations, and the remnants of an original typed caption.
Mid-year 1959 found the 84-year-old Churchill spending time at Chartwell, Marrakech, the races at Ascot, and, two days after this image was captured, boarding the yacht of his friend, Aristotle Onassis, for a cruise in Greek and Turkish waters. Four years earlier Churchill had irrevocably relinquished the reins of power when he resigned his second and final premiership on 5 April 1955 at the age of 80.
During the last decade of his long life, Churchill passed "into a living national memorial" of the time he had lived and the Nation, Empire, and free world he had served, culminating in his death on 24 January 1965 and his remarkably elaborate state funeral. In attendance were “six sovereigns, six presidents and sixteen prime ministers” as well as representatives of 112 nations. Queen Elizabeth II also attended – the first time in a century that a British monarch attended a commoner’s funeral. Before the service in St. Paul’s Cathedral, Churchill’s coffin had passed through the countryside on a train. The Oxford don, Dr. A. L. Rowse, recorded “The Western sky filled with the lurid glow of winter sunset; the sun setting on the British Empire.”
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. Few of the 20th century’s statesmen lent themselves to the medium with such photogenic alacrity as Winston Churchill. Item #005385