London: New York Times Photos, London, Ab Reportagebild, Stockholm, 11 July 1949. Photograph. This original press photograph captures Winston S. Churchill and “Park Bench Statesman” Bernard Baruch, an old Churchill friend and colleague, at Churchill’s beloved country home, Chartwell, on 11 July 1949. The gelatin silver print on glossy photo paper measures 8.125 x 6 inches (20.7 x 15.2 cm). Condition is very good plus. The paper is clean and crisp with sharp corners and minor scuffing to the surface visible only under raking light. The verso bears a copyright stamp reading “New York Times Photos”, a stamp of “AB REPORTAGEBILD” of Stockholm, and an original typed caption titled “BARUCH MEETS CHURCHILL.” The caption reads “Bernard Baruch, America’s ‘elder statesman’ and adviser to Presidents, to-day visited Winston Churchill at his home at Westerham, Kent. Baruch is over for a six weeks’ stay in Europe.” and is dated “11th July 1949”.
Four years earlier Churchill faced frustration of his postwar plans when his wartime government fell on 26 July 1945 to a Labour Party General Election landslide. He would be relegated to Leader of the Opposition until the October 1951 General Election returned him to 10 Downing Street. During these six years, Churchill not only wrote his war memoirs and led his Conservative Party, but also visited and hosted old friends and figures of political significance; Bernard Mannes Baruch (1870-1965) was both.
Baruch and Churchill first became acquainted in 1918 when the latter as Minister of Munitions corresponded with the former as Chairman of the U.S. War Industries Board about supplies of raw materials for the war effort. Of Jewish parentage, Baruch was a New York financier, statesman, and advisor to U.S. presidents spanning Woodrow Wilson to Harry Truman. Churchill and Baruch were introduced in person by Lloyd George at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference and struck up a friendship that would result in more than 750 letters and numerous meetings over the following decades. Their friendship deepened during the two decades of interwar peace. In 1929 Churchill travelled to the US for the first time in nearly 30 years. He wrote to Barney, as Baruch was affectionately called, for assistance. Baruch responded by introducing Churchill to luminaries across the country, including William Randolph Hearst. Baruch also accompanied Churchill in the former’s private railcar from Chicago to New York.
During the Second World War, both men shared considerable influence, Baruch’s less formal than that of Churchill as a “Park Bench Statesman”; he told reporters that his only office was a park bench across from the White House in Lafayette Square. (ANB) The world changed remarkably during their long friendship and collaboration, which spanned bullets and cavalry to atomic energy. Although the two men had first corresponded over their respective roles producing war materials during the First World War, Baruch’s final formal governmental role was as American Representative of the Atomic Energy Commission while Churchill presided over the first British nuclear weapons test during his second and final premiership. When this image of the two old friends was captured, Baruch’s influence was waning while Churchill had yet to reach his second political apex (his 1951-1955 premiership). Nonetheless their friendship endured. Brendan Bracken once wrote to Baruch, “Nature made you and Winston Churchill for each other and it does you both great good to meet.” Baruch and Churchill met for the last time on board Aristotle Onassis’s yacht in 1961. Item #005591