London: Keystone Press Agency Ltd., 2 June 1960. Photograph. This original press photo captures Sir Winston S. Churchill arriving at Epsom Downs on 2 June 1960. This image measures 10 x 8 in (25.4 x 20.3 cm) on matte photo paper. Condition is very good minus. The paper is crisp, clean, and free of scuffing with only some light cockling along the top and bottom edges and original crop markings. This image features original, hand-applied retouching of Churchill’s face and clothes. The verso bears the copyright stamp of “Keystone Press Agency Ltd.”, a published stamp of The Daily Telegraph from 2 June 1960, handwritten printing notations, and a clipping of the caption as it was printed in the newspaper. The caption on the verso of this photograph reads: “Winston Churchill, whose horse Vienna was scratched only a few hours before the off, arriving at Epsom.”
Owning racehorses was a later life manifestation of Churchill’s lifelong love of horses. At Sandhurst, training for the cavalry, Churchill graduated second in the arduous riding competition. At Omdurman he participated in “the last significant cavalry charge in British history”. He was a talented polo player who did not play his last game until age 52. And as soon as his finances allowed in the last decades of his life, Churchill kept a stable of racehorses and found some success as an owner and breeder.
In 1949 the septuagenarian Churchill purchased Colonist II, a three-year-old French race horse. Colonist became something of a sensation, winning eight of his nine races in 1950, including one in which King George VI’s horse was running. Churchill’s new hobby was not met with approval by all. Clementine wrote to a friend “I do think this is a queer new facet in Winston’s variegated life… I must say I don’t find it madly amusing.” (letter of 28 May 1951) When Colonist’s trainer suggested that Colonist be put up to stud Churchill allegedly retorted, “To stud? And have it said that the Prime Minister of Great Britain is living on the immoral earnings of a horse?” (quoted in Kay Halle, The Irrepressible Churchill, p. 241) Churchill continued to own horses throughout the remainder of his life, 36 in total, but none quite matched the success of his first.
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. 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 #005390