David Irving

[Photo by Michael Hentz, for The New York Times]


Churchill's Ambition


Letter to the Editor of
The Sunday Telegraph

The Sunday Telegraph 
The Letters Editor
1 Canada Square
Canary Wharf,
London E14 5AR 

[Published, though without the requested addition about Churchill's War, vol. ii]

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London, January 25, 1998

WHAT none of your correspondents mentions about Churchill's undoubted painting skills is that he did not choose the pseudonym Charles Maurin (not Morin) to exhibit his paintings under, as David Wyllie notes (Jan. 25), by happenstance. The genuine Charles Maurin, born at Puy in 1856, was a minor master of the French Post-Impressionist school who had died in the Alpes-Maritimes in 1914. Their painting styles were very similar. Winston was guilty of what in modern times would be called "passing off."
He got away with this harmless deceit until he visited the White House in the winter of 1941/42. The head of the Section of Fine Arts in Washington sent him a gently mocking invitation ('we serve coffee!') addressed to 'Charles Maurin, c/o The President'.
'We have always had a very high regard in the Section,' this read, 'for an English painter named Charles Marin [sic ] who we understand is otherwise known as Winston Churchill.'
Intrigued by this letter, President Roosevelt ordered an investigation and found out what Winston had got up to in his poverty-stricken wilderness years. He was unable to resist sending the dossier over to London. 'Dear Winston,' he ribbed him on Feb. 11, 1942, 'these people who go around under assumed names render themselves open to all kinds of indignity and suspicion.' He added this piece of mischief: 'The British Embassy was asked for verification and I suppose the matter has been to Scotland Yard and back again.'
Prices for a genuine Churchill of course now far outclass those for a Charles Maurin. Churchill's 1924 French landscape, 'Mimizan,' sold for 48,000 in 1977; a Maurin attracted only 800 in 1972.
Alas, none of this is contained in Sir Martin Gilbert's volumes on the great man.

Yours faithfully,
David Irving

If you print this, please add: "The second volume of David Irving's biography, Churchill's War: Triumph in Adversity , is to appear later this year."

© Focal Point David Irving 1998