Painting of Tower of the Koutoubia Mosque by Sir Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Churchill's 1943 'Tower of the Koutoubia Mosque', oil on canvas, 18 x 24in (46 x 60cm), estimated at £1.5-2.5m at Christie's.

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Christie’s will offer Tower of the Koutoubia Mosque on March 1 with an estimate of £1.5-2.5m.

The then UK prime minister gave the picture to President Franklin D Roosevelt following the 10-day Casablanca Conference in 1943.

Nick Orchard, head of department for Modern British Art at Christie’s, said: “Tower of the Koutoubia Mosque was created following the Casablanca Conference where it was agreed by the Allied forces that only complete surrender by the Axis powers would be acceptable. It is the only work that Churchill painted during the war, perhaps encouraged by the recent progress made by the Allies in what he considered to be one of the most beautiful countries he had encountered.”

Angelina Jolie

Angelina Jolie was given the Churchill portrait by by her then-husband Brad Pitt in 2011. Image: Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Link to licence

It passed down to Roosevelt’s son Elliott until 1950 and then stayed in American collections until it was bought by New Orleans dealership MS Rau.

The picture had been given to Jolie by her then-husband Brad Pitt in 2011 who had purchased it from the Louisiana gallery.

UK-US relations

Churchill had invited Roosevelt to join him in Marrakech the day after the conference to “share the views of the city and the light at sunset”. The view impressed Roosevelt so much that Churchill decided to capture the scene for him as a memento of their excursion. The painting depicts the 12th-century mosque against the backdrop of the Atlas Mountains.

Churchill began painting scenes of Morocco after being encouraged to visit the country by his painting tutor, Sir John Lavery. Upon his first visit in 1935, he felt that the light and scenery were unrivalled, creating some 45 paintings of the country. However Tower of the Koutoubia Mosque stands out as the only painting created between 1939 and 1945.