The bust of Sir Winston Churchill was created from life in 1953, at the behest of the city of Rotterdam. Sculpted by Willem Verbon (1921– 2003), an edition of the impressive, finished bronze stands in the Dutch city to this day.
Churchill’s importance to Rotterdam was confirmed in 1946 when he was granted honorary membership of the town council, which this bust was created to commemorate. Already held in high regard as a civic sculptor, Willem Verbon was awarded the commission.
Verbon’s Churchill is dressed as he was for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. His uniform of the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports is just visible beneath the mantle of a Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of Garter with the gold collar of the Order draped across his shoulders.
According to the artist’s biographer, Verbon imitated Churchill’s gruff voice magnificently recalling the Prime Minister saying “I think I belong to a kennel now, but I must say, a very distinguished kennel” when receiving his honorary medal of membership from the Rotterdam council.
In the letters exchanged between Churchill’s secretary Anthony Montague Browne and the Dutch Embassy, Churchill compliments the artist on “the remarkable result” achieved for which he was “indeed obliged for the trouble” he had taken.
Words by Barry Phipps