London: Heinemann & Zsolnay, Ltd., 1943. First French language edition. Hardcover. This is the first French edition of the first volume of Churchill's war speeches, finely bound, inscribed and dated by Churchill to his longtime friend and painting companion Charles Montag (1880-1956). The inked inscription in four lines on the second blank endpaper reads: "To Charles Montag | from | Winston S. Churchill | 1946". Churchill met and befriended Charles Montag during the First World War. May 1915 saw Churchill scapegoated for the bloody failure in the Dardanelles and forced from the Admiralty. By November Churchill was serving at the Front, leading a battalion in the trenches. But during the summer of 1915, as he wrestled with depression and decisions, he rented Hoe Farm in Surrey, which he frequented with his wife and three children. There, one day in June, Churchill noticed his brother's wife sketching in watercolors and impulsively borrowed her brush. He swiftly found solace in painting, which would serve as a beloved source of release and renewal for the rest of his long life.
Charles Montag shared and supported Churchill's passion. Montag was a Swiss painter and art dealer who met Churchill in 1915, soon after Churchill began painting. Montag became a lifelong friend and compagnon d'art for nearly four decades, painting with Churchill from the south of France to Lake Como to Marrakech. More than just a companion, Montag also served as a mentor, supporter, and technical advisor. In 1915, it was Montag who took Churchill "round the galleries of Paris" and introduced him to the work of the impressionists. In 1921, Montag arranged an exhibition of Churchill's paintings at the prestigious Galerie Druet in the rue Royale, shown under the pseudonym "Charles Morin".
Letters from Churchill to his wife testify that, over the years, Montag would "comment & guide" Churchill's painting, an influence Churchill regarded positively: "he has a vast knowledge and one cannot paint in his presence without learning." In 1946 Montag helped arrange for Churchill to stay at Chateau Choisi on Lake Geneva to paint, work on his war memoirs, and prepare his famous speech of 19 September promoting a United Europe. Just a half a decade earlier, Churchill's soaring and defiant oratory sustained his countrymen and inspired the free world as Europe was violently torn apart. Now, in 1946, Churchill's words would help catalyze a peacefully united Europe, lending bold impetus to formation of what would eventually become the European Union. Radically in the wake of the Second World War, Churchill called for "a partnership between France and Germany" and for a Council of Europe, which would convene in The Hague in 1948 as a Congress of Europe with Churchill as Honorary President.
Churchill was known, on occasion, to gift finely bound and inscribed copies of his books to significant friends who hosted him on his trips. Given the inscription date it seems highly probable that this finely bound volume in his friend's preferred language was such a gift. This gift to Montag bridges the war that called Churchill to leadership and lasting fame, the complex peace he was still laboring to secure, and a friendship and pastime that had sustained Churchill during momentous world events for more than three decades.
Into Battle was the first of Churchill's war speeches volumes, published in England in 1941 with this French edition following in 1943. This volume is bound in dark red half morocco over marbled cloth boards. The binding features raised spine bands, gilt spine lettering, black rules bordering all spine bands and transitions, and gilt top edge.
Condition is truly fine. The binding remains bright and clean with no fading or deterioration of the leather and virtually no wear. The contents are likewise superior. There are no previous ownership markings apart from the author's inscription. We note just a trace of spotting confined to the first and final leaves and the fore and bottom edges. Item #002663