Yousuf Karsh Winston Churchill
Medium Silver print
Photo Date 1941 Print Date 1941c
Dimensions 19-1/4 x 15-1/4 in. (489 x 387 mm)
Photo Country Canada
Photographer Country Canada
Contact Alex Novak and Marthe Smith
About This Image
Very rare and large vintage print of this iconic portrait of Churchill. Signed and "Ottowa" in white ink on recto of the print.
To get the look on Churchill's face, here's how Karsh described what happened: "Churchill’s cigar was ever present. I held out an ashtray, but he would not dispose of it. I went back to my camera and made sure that everything was all right technically. I waited; he continued to chomp vigorously at his cigar. I waited. Then I stepped toward him and, without premeditation, but ever so respectfully, I said, “Forgive me, sir,” and plucked the cigar out of his mouth. By the time I got back to my camera, he looked so belligerent he could have devoured me. It was at that instant that I took the photograph."
The photo, according to The Economist, is the "most reproduced portrait in the history of photography", yet vintage prints, like this one, are rare.
Yousuf Karsh, (Armenian name: Hovsep Karsh; December 23, 1908–July 13, 2002) was an Armenian-Canadian photographer best known for his portraits of notable individuals. He has been described as one of the greatest portrait photographers of the 20th century.
An Armenian Genocide survivor, Karsh migrated to Canada as a refugee. By the 1930s he established himself as a significant photographer in Ottawa, where he lived most part of his adult life, though he traveled extensively for work. His iconic 1941 photograph of Winston Churchill was a breakthrough point in his 60-year career, throughout which he took numerous photos of known political leaders, men and women of arts and sciences. Over 20 photos by Karsh appeared on the cover of Life magazine, until he retired in 1992.
See: 20th Century Photography Museum Ludwig Cologne, (Taschen, 1996, Germany), p.311.
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