Churchill sunset painting to be auctioned in NY

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A vibrant oil painting by Winston Churchill of a sunset over mountains in Morocco, a view he later took U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt to see during World War II, will be auctioned in New York next week.

Churchill painted “Sunset over the Atlas Mountains” from his balcony in a Marrakech hotel while on vacation in 1935. He used bright-colored paints, many straight from the tube, said Malcolm Walker, an expert at Bonhams New York, which is auctioning the work.

Later, the former British wartime leader took Roosevelt to Marrakech to view the Atlas Mountains after the Casablanca Conference in 1943. “His returning to take Roosevelt to see the mountains obviously meant something to him,” Walker said.

Churchill’s daughter, Mary Soames, once said the moment was one of “tranquility amid the tumult and stress of the war.”

Churchill began painting in 1915, finding relief from spells of depression. “Painting helped ease his busy mind,” Walker said, adding that the painting was Churchill’s most colorful work.

Bonhams estimated the painting, to be auctioned on April 23, would fetch at least $600,000. Late last year, another Churchill painting of Morocco brought nearly $1 million in an auction, and earlier in the year, a larger painting of his home, Chartwell, sold for more than $2 million.

Reporting by Timothy Gardner, editing by Sandra Maler