Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Great Man And His Scowl

"I am prepared to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter." ~ Winston Churchill

I have shown this portrait of the great man before, but it's welcome to revisit such places and photograph again. Yousuf Karsh, whose photo studios were here in the Chateau Laurier for many years, has several portraits hanging in the lounge, including his iconic portrait of Winston Churchill. It was taken on Parliament Hill in late December 1941 during a stay in Ottawa after Churchill gave a speech in our House of Commons. The story goes that Karsh took the Prime Minister's cigar away to get the shot he wanted. Churchill didn't much care for that, hence the scowl, and yet it's the defining portrait of the man, showing his absolute determination.

A few days back the Ottawa Citizen mentioned Churchill in another way. It seems that his ghost has been seen in Laurier House, the home of Prime Ministers Laurier and Mackenzie King, where he stayed as a guest. Perhaps he's still looking for that cigar?


  1. I am reading a book about secret spy meetings, etc. that went on at the Hotel Ritz in Paris during the war. Churchill comes up quite often.

  2. Karsh was a giant talent, and will always be a giant in history because of the images he imagined of the great figures of his age. His JFK is as iconic as Sir Winston in my opinion. Fine post, dear.

    ALOHA from Honolulu

  3. FInd the ghost sort a bit far feched being as he died this sise if the pond and is buried 20 miles from where I live. Good portrait though

  4. Love the photo and the quote. He was quite witty; can think of a few more examples of his (biting) humor.

  5. "Simply" an inconic man

  6. Happy thanksgiving!. Be happy this day and all of your life !.


  7. A great, and fascinating, man. Many flaws, but a genius too. You've got me wondering whether I've ever seen a picture of him grinning..!

  8. Hard tell tell if it is determination, or petulance, William.

  9. Ha!
    Interesting story and some humor with Willie's words.

  10. @Halcyon: Winston had his hand in a lot of things back then.

    @Cloudia: thank you!

    @Bill: it does seem a curious story!

    @Pat: he was quite a character.

    @Anna: most definitely.

    @Tomas: well, we Canadians had Thanksgiving weeks ago!

    @Mike: Karsh took another shot of him in this session, and there is a smile. It should be easily found by googling the two names.

    @Julie: a little of both!

    @Revrunner: Oh, yes!

    @Tanya: thanks!

    @Birdman: thank you!

    @Karl: it certainly is.

  11. His ghost, eh?

    I can believe it would be hard to keep Churchill down...even after death....

  12. Karsh was good! And this is a beautiful portrait. Ghosts? Nah...

  13. Great portrait of one of the greatest statesman of the 20th century.

  14. I have a feeling he would make a rather commanding looking ghost.

  15. The photographer did a splendid job of capturing this huge personality!

  16. It really is a fabulous portrait of Chuchill, it was worth taking away his cigar to get it :)

  17. Ooh ! I like the "looking for his cigar."

  18. Great portrait: he is definitely looking for his cigar!

  19. There are probably more photos of him with than without a sigar.

  20. Forgive the error, I believed the holiday was also in Canada.


  21. @Norma: he seems too stubborn!

    @Lowell: Both Yousuf and his brother Malak were extraordinary photographers. Malak turned to landscape photography, and between the two of them were the best of the best in their fields.

    @Jan: it really brings out a defiance that was in the man.

    @Sharon: he certainly would.

    @Judy: indeed.... it's a defining portrait.

    @Grace: it really was worthwhile!

    @Red: it seemed an appropriate way to end!

    @Tex: he certainly does.

    @Hilary: well it was interfering with the shot!

    @VP: he had no shortage of them!

    @Marleen: that's quite true.

    @Tomas: oh, we have it in October, and we don't make much of a fuss about it. I don't think I mentioned it at all on our Thanksgiving.

  22. did not care for that??????

    The photographer would never have made such a portrait whit that expression with his cigar! LOL

  23. I love Yousuf's work...I'll have to track down Malak's and take a look at it.
    Great Churchill story!
    Considering the typical weather in the U.S. around our Thanksgiving (over 1,000 flights cancelled yesterday due to weather) I think we should schedule ours when Canada does. A great deal more sensible.

  24. Great story! And it explains the scowl!

  25. I love the story behind the portrait! He may be looking for the cigar indeed :-)

  26. @Peter: Winston liked his cigars!

    @Kay: I've got a couple of coffee table books with some of Malak's work. As a landscape photographer, he was every bit the equal of his brother. It was wise to go into a different field.

    @Zannnie: thank you!

    @RedPat: quite a pout too!

    @Lynette: thanks!

    @Cheryl: and what a scowl!

    @Tamago: more of that tomorrow, in fact!

    @Linda: if anyone would still be haunting the earth, Winston's a good candidate.

  27. Wonderful anecdote about Churchill!

  28. Now I'm wondering what it would be like to meet Churchill's ghost. Would I smell cigar smoke?

  29. Wouldn't you hate to turn a corner and run into Churchill's ghost?

  30. @Randy: I think so!

    @Whisk: absolutely not!

    @Kate: I think so!

    @EG: probably!

    @Jack: it would be a one of a kind spectral experience!