CHURCHILL’S CONTEMPORARY ARTISTS
Hitler produced hundreds of paintings when trying to earn a living as an artist in Vienna, in the years leading up to the First World War. He sought admission to the Vienna Academy of
Fine Arts in the 1900s but was rejected twice.
Franco’s painting pastime is less well known. This secret hobby came to light in 2011, with the publication of a book written by his grandson, who described how the Caudillo had been encouraged to paint by his personal physician, as a way to relax from the stresses of governing.
In the book, 15 artworks were reproduced, including a self portrait of the late Spanish dictator wearing military uniform and holding binoculars, several of his daughter Carmen, and scenes depicting hunting and sailing, two of his favourite pursuits. The final canvas attributed to Franco is of a sailing boat sinking in stormy waters.
Dwight Eisenhower took up painting in earnest in 1948. He is said to have been encouraged to take his hobby more seriously by Churchill – although, like Franco, he may also have been following doctor’s orders in using the activity as a means of stress relief.
Eisenhower, who became US president in 1953, claimed he had the most opportunity to paint when he was in the White House, because his time was so well managed. He would sometimes present ‘paint by number’ kits to visitors to the Oval Office.
At his Gettysburg home, the porch became his painting studio. ‘Ike’ produced around
260 paintings during the last 20 years of his life.
Vienna State Opera House by Adolf Hitler, 1912
The Mexican by Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1953
Bear and Hounds by Francisco Franco