Winston Churchill, as Wartime Prime Minister, Presents His Chief Parliamentary Whip With a Signed and Dated Photograph in Reward for Faithful Service

Viscount James Gray Stuart had served Churchill through most of World War II, and the two worked in close harmony

Obtained by us directly from the Stuart descendants, and never before offered for sale

When photographer Walter Stoneman arrived at 10 Downing Street on April 1, 1941, he realized this was a historic occasion. He recorded the exact time he took the Prime Minister’s picture as 3pm. At this moment, Churchill was...

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Winston Churchill, as Wartime Prime Minister, Presents His Chief Parliamentary Whip With a Signed and Dated Photograph in Reward for Faithful Service

Viscount James Gray Stuart had served Churchill through most of World War II, and the two worked in close harmony

Obtained by us directly from the Stuart descendants, and never before offered for sale

When photographer Walter Stoneman arrived at 10 Downing Street on April 1, 1941, he realized this was a historic occasion. He recorded the exact time he took the Prime Minister’s picture as 3pm. At this moment, Churchill was waiting for word on Germany’s fateful invasion of Yugoslavia, information made possible in part by the English decryption of German Enigma messages. The photograph Stoneman took that day captures Churchill’s resolve and the gravity of the moment. It remains, along with Karsh’s portrait (done a full 9 months later), an enduring symbol of Churchill at war. Churchill liked the Stoneman image and gave out copies signed on the mount to notables and others; one copy sat on Stalin’s desk.

James Gray Stuart, 1st Viscount Stuart of Findhorn, was the Chief Whip of Winston Churchill’s Conservative Party in the House of Commons from January 1941-1948. The job of Chief Whip is to insure that members of the party attend key votes, and that they vote as the party leadership desires. As is traditional, the Chief Whip is also appointed as Parliamentary Secretary of the Treasury, which is a Cabinet position, so he served Churchill in that post, as well. During the war years, Lord Stuart’s easy manner and dedication to hard work won Churchill’s respect, and the two men worked in close harmony. In 1947 Stuart wrote a memoir of his experiences entitled “Within the Fringe: An Autobiography.” He later served as Secretary of State for Scotland under Churchill and then Sir Anthony Eden.

We offer a larger than usual example of the Stoneman photograph, a full 7.5 by 9.5 inches, signed and dated 1945 by Churchill on the mount, and presented to Viscount Stuart. We obtained it directly from the Stuart descendants, and it has never before been offered for sale.

Signed photographs of Churchill with wartime dates are increasingly uncommon, but this one seems to have an especially interesting story to tell. Stuart served with Churchill from January 1941 until Churchill lost his reelection bid in July 1945 and left 10 Downing Street. The two men saw each other frequently, yet the photograph Stuart received from Churchill is dated at the end of that wartime service – 1945. There seems only one explanation, and we feel safe in conjecturing that this was a farewell gift Churchill presented to Stuart in his final moments as Prime Minister, in reward for faithful service.

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