Karsh’s Churchill

It must be one of the most famous portrait photographs ever. The Churchill that Karsh portrayed is the indomitable British bulldog - a symbol of the Finest Hour and everything that Churchill stood for. 

It was taken in the chamber of the Speaker of the Canadian House of Commons on December 30th 1941 - just after the course of the war had been decisively altered by the entry of the United States into the war. Karsh of Ottawa, as he was known was already famous and he was drafted in by the Canadian PM to photograph Churchill after he had addressed the Canadian Parliament. Karsh had set himself up and the great man was ushered into the room allocated. The problem was that no one had told Churchill - and when he realised what was going on he was not amused. In a bad mood, he stood chewing his cigar as Karch readied himself. In a moment of instinctive genius, Karsh leant forward and plucked the cigar out of Churchill’s mouth and at the same moment opened the shutter of his camera. The resulting iconic image - and for once iconic is the right word - was actually the fury of a man who had suffered the impertinence of having his cigar snatched away from him. 

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