London: Copyright Fox Photos Ltd., published by The Daily Telegraph, 1 July 1943. Photograph. This item from The Daily Telegraph archives is both quite unusual and quite striking – a triptych of Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill comprised of three wartime photographs taken on 30 June 1943 at the luncheon in his honor following his receipt of the Honorary Freedom of the City of London. The composition, measuring 11.5 x 8.5 inches (29.2 x 21.6 cm), comprises three gelatin silver prints on matte photo paper. The Daily Telegraph Art Department hinged the three images together with paper tape on the verso and hand-applied retouching to Churchill’s face and suit.
Condition is very good plus. The paper is clean and crisp with only minor softening to the corners. The photographs are arresting; Churchill is in focus with the other figures blurred from motion and a beautiful bokeh to the table setting. The versos of all three photos bear the copyright stamp of “Fox Photos Ltd.” and handwritten printing notations. The top and bottom photos have published stamps from The Daily Telegraph dated 1 JUL 1943; and the bottom photo has a clipping of the caption as it appeared in print reading, "THREE INTIMATE STUDIES of the Prime Minister taken yesterday at the Mansion House during the luncheon held in his honour." This triptych is housed in a removable, archival mylar sleeve within a rigid, crimson cloth folder. This is the only such triptych we have encountered in the many hundreds of original press photos we have handled. It is a striking piece well-suited to framing.
On 30 June 1943 the City of London bestowed its greatest honor on the man who was leading them through the war when it presented Prime Minister Winston Churchill with the Honorary Freedom of the City of London. The Freedom of the City of London, like many British traditions, is centuries old and today far removed from its original purposes. Established in the 13th century, the Freedom originally meant that its recipient was not the property of a feudal lord and had the right to earn money and own land. Today the Freedom is bestowed on those who have made a significant impact in their field in London. The Honorary Freedom is a far rarer and greater honor usually bestowed only on Heads of State during a formal ceremony at the Guildhall.
At the Guildhall ceremony Churchill gave a lengthy speech, opening with thanks for the honor, “The strain of protracted war is hard and severe upon the men at the executive summit of great countries, however lightly care may seem to sit upon them. They have need of all the help and comfort their fellow countrymen can give them. I feel myself buoyed up by your good will here today, and indeed I have felt uplifted through all these years by the consideration with which the British people have treated me, even when serious mistakes have been made.” (Complete Speeches, Vol VII, p.6792) This press photo was once a part of the working archive of The Daily Telegraph.
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, 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. Item #005601