Study for Breakfast at Chartwell II, Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965) and Clementine Ogilvy Hozier, Lady Churchill (1885-1977) in the Dining Room at Chartwell with their Cat
Sir William Newzam Prior Nicholson (Newark-on-Trent 1872 – Berkshire 1949)
This is an abandoned first version (or second study) of the picture which was commissioned by friends to celebrate the Churchill's silver wedding in 1933. Nicholson borrowed the completed version for a retospective exhibition of his work (with Jack B. Yeats) at the National Galllery in 1942. He took against it, tried, but failed, to improve it, and instead destroyed it (probably in December 1941 before the exhibition opened). Thus setting a precedent for Lady Churchill to destroy the disliked portrait of her husband by Graham Sutherland. This is the second more finished study (the other is in the Metheun collection at Corsham Court) with a raised viewpoint to include more of the room. The couple actually never took this meal together as Sarah Churchill had pointed out: "My father in later life said that one of the secrets of a happy marrriage is never to speak to or see the beloved one before noon." When Chartwell was left to the National Trust in 1966, the family of Sir Winston Churchill requested that there always be a marmalade cat named Jock, with a white bib and four white socks, in comfortable residence at Chartwell and this has indeed been upheld.
Oil painting on canvas, Study for Breakfast at Chartwell II by Sir William Nicholson (Newark-on-Trent 1872 – Berkshire 1949), signed lower left N, circa 1934 - 35. The statesman, Winston, in his spats and favourite blue boiler suit, and Mrs Churchill are seated at their dining table, the green door of the rose garden visible through the window. A bantam has entered the room and their marmalade cat is sitting on the table being given something by Clementina.
Acquired by the sitters from the artist (a framer's label on the back has Hyde Park Gate address suggesting it must have been framed after 1945); transferred by HM Treasury, 1968
Chartwell, The Churchill Collection (National Trust)
Makers and roles
Sir William Newzam Prior Nicholson (Newark-on-Trent 1872 – Berkshire 1949), artist
Reed 2011 Patricia Reed, William Nicholson Catalogue Raisonné of the Oil Paintings, Yale Universiy Press, 2011, 709 Soames 1990 Mary Soames, Winston Churchill: His Life as a Painter, Collins, London, 1990, pp.84-6