Painting as a Pastime. Winston S. Churchill.
Painting as a Pastime
Painting as a Pastime
Painting as a Pastime
Painting as a Pastime
Painting as a Pastime
Painting as a Pastime
Painting as a Pastime

Painting as a Pastime

London: Odhams Press Limited, Ernest Benn Limited, 1948. First edition, first printing. Hardcover. This is the first edition, first printing of Painting as a Pastime, Churchill's essay about his famous hobby. It had been printed in The Strand Magazine as early as 1921, but it was not until 1948 - nearly three decades after his first published words on the subject - that Churchill consented to a book about his pastime and passion.

While the first edition was an attractive enough little book, the coarse, pale green cloth binding proved highly susceptible to soiling and sunning and the thin maroon and white dust jacket incredibly vulnerable to wear. This copy is very good in a good dust jacket. The binding is square, clean, and tight with bright gilt on the spine and front cover and minor shelf wear confined to extremities. We often find that jacketed first editions show some offsetting to the binding from the front cover illustration. This copy shows no such offsetting. The contents remain bright and substantially clean, modest spotting primarily confined to the endpapers and page edges. The sole previous ownership mark is contemporary, an inked name and date of “Christmas 1948” on the front free endpaper. The endpapers show differential toning corresponding to the dust jacket flaps, confirming that this copy has spent life jacketed. The jacket is unclipped, retaining the original lower front flap price, unfaded, with no appreciable color shift between the faces and spine, and respectably clean, without significant soiling. Nonetheless, the jacket shows significant wear along the hinges and flap folds, with small losses at the spine ends, corners, and one spot at the upper rear face. The jacket is protected beneath a clear, removable, archival cover.

Soldier, writer, and politician, Churchill was perhaps an unlikely painter. Nonetheless he proved both a prolific and passionate one. Churchill first took up painting during the First World War. May 1915 saw Churchill scapegoated for failure in the Dardanelles and slaughter at Gallipoli and forced from his Cabinet position at the Admiralty. By November 1915 Churchill was serving at the Front, leading a battalion in the trenches. But during the summer of 1915, as he battled depression, he rented Hoe Farm in Surrey, which he frequented with his wife and three children. One day in June, Churchill noticed his brother's wife, Gwendeline, sketching in watercolors. Churchill borrowed her brush and swiftly found solace in painting, which would be a passion and source of release and renewal for the remaining half century of his long life.

Winston's wife Clementine had opposed the idea of her husband's opining in print on the subject, concerned that he might be belittled by professional painters and others. Clementine aside, it may be that Churchill's comparative reticence on the subject was to keep something personal in the great and turbulent sweep of his otherwise tremendously public life. He wrote, "Painting is a friend who makes no undue demands, excites to no exhausting pursuits, keeps faithful pace even with feeble steps, and holds her canvas as a screen between us and the envious eyes of Time or the surly advance of Decrepitude" (Painting as a Pastime, p. 13).

Whatever Churchill's reason for penning and ultimately consenting to book publication of Painting as a Pastime complete with images of his paintings, the relatively few words he offered on the subject add something truly personal and different to the great body of his writing.

Reference: Cohen A242.1.a, Woods/ICS A125(a), Langworth p.288. Item #006864

Price: $130.00

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