By John Hammon
An incredibly famous portrait of former British prime minister, Winston Churchill, that hung in the Château Laurier hotel in Ottawa since 1998, had recently been swapped with a fake version of the painting as of August 19th. This portrait was photographed by Yousuf Karsh – entitled ‘Roaring Lion’.
Reportedly, a staff member of the hotel found that on Friday evening, the photo of Churchill was not properly hung and the frame was standing out from the other portraits in the hotel lounge. Later, Jerry Fielder, the director of Karsh’s estate, found that the portrait that was hanging in the lounge had a fake signature of Karsh’s, meaning that the portrait was indeed fake.
Shocked and saddened, the Château Laurier hotel contacted law enforcement, who are investigating a possible theft of the photograph. Fielder was known to have said in this instance: “I couldn’t believe that anyone would do this… It had been there for so long and had been such a part of the hotel…” the last time Fielder was able to confirm that the photograph was hanging in the hotel was in July 2019, meaning that the portrait could have very well been missing for close to three years
And although this news comes from a somewhat melancholy report, a light-hearted fact about this portrait is that Churchill’s fierce expression captured moments after Karsh had taken a cigar straight from his mouth, which in of itself is slightly amusing.
Canadian photographer, Yousuf Karsh, in addition to having excellent comedic timing, is considered to be one of the 20th century’s greatest portrait photographers, and his fame was boosted as a result of his capturing of Churchill in Ottawa, during Churchill’s time of addressing the Canadian parliament during World War Two.