Item #005619 "FIELD MARSHAL SMUTS ADDRESSES MEMBERS OF BOTH HOUSES" - An Original Second World War Press Photograph of British Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill introducing Field Marshal and South African Prime Minister Jan Smuts to the British Parliament on 21 October 1942
"FIELD MARSHAL SMUTS ADDRESSES MEMBERS OF BOTH HOUSES" - An Original Second World War Press Photograph of British Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill introducing Field Marshal and South African Prime Minister Jan Smuts to the British Parliament on 21 October 1942

"FIELD MARSHAL SMUTS ADDRESSES MEMBERS OF BOTH HOUSES" - An Original Second World War Press Photograph of British Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill introducing Field Marshal and South African Prime Minister Jan Smuts to the British Parliament on 21 October 1942

London: Keystone Press Agency, 1942. Photograph. This is an original Second World War press photograph of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill introducing Field Marshal and South African Prime Minister Jan Smuts to the British Parliament on 21 October 1942.

The gelatin silver print is on heavy glossy photo paper and measures 10 x 8 in (25.4 x 20.32 cm). Condition is very good with a clean, crisp appearance. There is modest wear, substantially confined to the white border margins, with the exception of a small tear and loss at the lower left corner, not appreciably affecting the image. The verso features the ink stamp of “Keystone Press Agency Ltd.” The original Keystone caption remains tipped onto the verso. It is titled: “FIELD MARSHAL SMUTS ADDRESSES | MEMBERS OF BOTH HOUSES 21.10.42.” The caption text reads: “Field Marshal Smuts today addressed | members of both Houses of Parliament. | Mr. Lloyd George presided at the meeting, | and Mr. Churchill made a brief speech. | KEYSTONE PHOTO SHOWS. Mr. Churchill | speaking today.”

By 1942, Churchill and Smuts had known one another for more than four decades. Their acquaintance began inauspiciously. In 1899 Winston Churchill, age 24, was captured during the Boer War. Churchill’s Afrikaner interrogator was Jan Smuts, age 29. Smuts opposed Churchill’s release. Churchill famously escaped. They met again in 1906, when Churchill was at the Colonial Office, and Smuts had become a Commando general. Their agreement to “a fresh start… between Briton and Boer” led to formation of a self-governing Union of South Africa. (Roberts, WWD, p.105) Smuts served as its second prime minister from 1919-1924.

Both men attended War Cabinets in the First World War. Smuts was an early member of Churchill's Other Club where, in 1933, in the midst of Churchill’s “wilderness years” (and his own), Smuts said that Churchill should have been Prime Minister and “Let me say this – if my old friend is careful, he will get there yet.” (Ibid. p.570) Smuts got there first. The September 1939 parliamentary vote that brought South Africa into the Second World War on the Allied side also resulted in the return of Smuts to the premiership (1939-1948). Churchill became British prime minister in May 1940.

By 1941 Smuts had joined the British War Cabinet, been appointed a Field Marshal in the British Army and become a critical advisor to Churchill. In July 1942, British troops defeated Rommel’s forces in the First Battle of El Alamein, but Allied momentum then stalled. Churchill flew to Cairo on 1 August to assess command. Smuts accompanied Churchill and was instrumental in encouraging Churchill’s difficult decision to replace Middle East Commander-in-Chief Auchinleck with Alexander. Churchill wrote to his wife of Smuts “He fortified me where I am inclined to be tender-hearted…” (Ibid. p.748)

When Smuts died in 1950, Churchill told the Other Club that he had admired Smuts unreservedly, accepting advice from him that he would not have taken from anybody else besides his wife. (Ibid. p.918)

This press photo once belonged to a newspaper’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. Item #005619

Price: $180.00

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