London: Keystone Press Agency Ltd., September 1961. Photograph. This original press photograph shows Sir Winston S. Churchill after arrival at London Airport on 4 September 1961, having returned home from a holiday at Monte Carlo. This image measures 10 x 8 in (25.4 x 20.3 cm) on matte photo paper. Condition is very good. The image is clean, crisp, and free of scuffing with only some light wrinkling along the top edge. The verso bears the copyright stamp of “Keystone Press Agency Ltd.”, a purple received stamp of The Daily Telegraph from September 1961, and a typed caption. The original caption is dated “4-9-61”, is titled “SIR WINSTON CHURCHILL RETURNS HOME. ARRIVAL AT LONDON AIRPORT.” and reads “KEYSTONE PHOTO SHOWS:- SIR WINSTON CHURCHILL seen in his car – at London Airport this afternoon when he returned from his Riviera holiday… Sir Winston had a slight fall when he boarded the aircraft in Nice – but was not hurt.”
A letter written by Churchill in his own hand to his wife during the trip poignantly limns his decline: “My dearest Clemmie, Here is a letter in my own paw. All is vy pleasant and the days slip by… I find it vy hard to write a good letter and wonder at the rate with which my friends accomplish their daily tasks. It is amazing they can succeed so well. But now here I have written what is at least the expression of my love Darling. When I was young I wrote fairly well, but now at last I am played out. You have my fondest love…” On this trip, Churchill’s namesake grandson, now an undergraduate at Christ Churchill, Oxford, was with him. In a postscript to his letter to Clementine, Churchill wrote of young Winston: “I am daily astonished by the development I seen in my namesake. He is a wonderful boy. I am so glad I have got to know him.” (Gilbert, VIII, p.1328)
This press photo once belonged to The Daily Telegraph’s working archive. 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.
This original press photograph was taken in the twilight of Churchill’s remarkable life and career. Winston S. Churchill was 80 years old when he resigned his second and final premiership on 5 April 1955. 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. The day after Churchill died, on 25 January 1965, the Queen sent a message to Parliament announcing: "Confident in the support of Parliament for the due acknowledgement of our debt of gratitude and in thanksgiving for the life and example of a national hero" and concluded "I have directed that Sir Winston's body shall lie in State in Westminster Hall and that thereafter the funeral service shall be held in the Cathedral Church of St. Paul.” Churchill's state funeral was attended by the Queen herself, other members of the royal family, the Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, and representatives of 112 countries. It was the first time in a century that a British monarch attended a commoner’s funeral. Item #005389