Angelina Jolie to sell Winston Churchill's Marrakesh painting at auction

Britain’s wartime leader gave ‘Tower of the Koutoubia Mosque’ landscape to Franklin D Roosevelt as a gift

An oil on canvas painting by Sir Winston Churchill Painted in Jan. 1943 called 'Tower of the Koutoubia Mosque' is displayed at Christie's auction rooms in London, Friday, Jan. 29, 2021. The painting currently owned by Angelina Jolie, has an estimate of 1,500,000-2,500,000 UK pounds (2,056,489- 3,427,482 US Dollars) and will go up for sale in the Modern British Art Evening Sale at Christie's on March 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
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Hollywood star and human rights activist Angelina Jolie is selling a historic work by Winston Churchill, painted in Morocco as he helped draw up battle plans to defeat Nazi Germany.

The British wartime prime minister's Tower of the Koutoubia Mosque landscape is the only painting he completed during the Second World War. He gave the artwork to then US president Franklin D Roosevelt as a gift.

Jolie hopes the painting will beat its estimated price of £1.5 million-£2.5m ($2.1m-$3.4m) when it is sold at Christie’s auction house in London on March 1.

The landscape depicts the 12th-century mosque in Marrakesh at sunset with the Atlas Mountains in the background.

American president Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882 - 1945) meets British prime minister Winston Churchill (1874 - 1965) for a church service on board the HMS Prince of Wales in Placentia Bay, Newfoundland, August 1941. They have convened for the Atlantic Conference to negotiate the Atlantic Charter.  (Photo by Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
American president Franklin D. Roosevelt meets British prime minister Winston Churchill in 1941. Getty/Archive

It was created after the January 1943 Casablanca Conference when Churchill showed Roosevelt the beauty of the Moroccan city.

"Roosevelt was blown away by it and thought it was incredible," said Nick Orchard, head of the modern British art department at Christie's .

He said Churchill produced a “wonderful, evocative painting” and gave it to Roosevelt as a memento of the trip.

Orchard said that “the light in Morocco and over Marrakesh was something that Churchill was passionate about” and used as the subject of many paintings.

“He loved the dry air, the light, the sun and the way it played on the landscapes,” he said. “And that’s absolutely visible here in this painting. You can see the long shadows and the turning purple of the mountains and the deepening of the sky – classic sunset time.”

Orchard said he hopes the Tower of the Koutoubia Mosque sets a record for a Churchill work.

“The record price at auction for Churchill is about £1.8m for a painting that, in my view, is not as important as this,” he said. “And I think this is probably his most important work.”

The painting was sold by Roosevelt's son after the president's death in 1945, and had several owners before Jolie and her then partner Brad Pitt bought it in 2011.

It is being sold by the Jolie Family Collection as part of the modern British art auction at Christie's.