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温斯顿·丘吉尔: 生活侧记

2006-07-09 13:29

Winston Churchill :His Other Life

  My father, Winston Churchill, began his love affair with painting in his 40s, amid disastrous circumstances. As First Lord of the Admiralty in 1915, he was deeply  involved in a campaign in the Dardanelles that could have shortened the course of a bloody world war. But when the mission failed, with great loss of life, Churchill paid the price, both publicly and privately. He was removed from the admiralty and effectively sidelined.

  Overwhelmed by the catastrophe — “I thought he would die of grief,” said his wife, Clementine —he retired with his family to Hoe Farm, a country retreat in Surrey. There, as Churchill later recalled, “The muse of painting came to my rescue!”

  Wandering in the garden one day, he chanced upon his sister-in-law sketching with watercolors. He watched her for a few minutes, then borrowed her brush and tried his hand. The muse had cast her spell!

  Churchill soon decided to experiment with oils. Delighted with this distraction from his dark broodings, Clementine rushed off to buy whatever paints she could find.

  For Churchill, however, the next step seemed difficult as he contemplated with unaccustomed nervousness the blameless whiteness of a new canvas. He started with the sky and later described how “very gingerly I mixed a little blue paint on the palette, and then with infinite precaution made a mark about as big as a bean upon the affronted snow-white shield. At that moment the sound of a motor car was heard in the drive. From this chariot stepped the gifted wife of Sir John Lavery .”

  “ ‘Painting!’ she declared. ‘But what are you hesitating about? Let me have the brush — the big one.’ Splash into the turpentine, wallop into the blue and the white, frantic flourish on the palette, and then several fierce strokes and slashes of blue on the absolutely cowering canvas.”

  At that time, John Lavery— a Churchill neighbor and celebrated painter— was tutoring Churchill in his art. Later, Lavery said of his unusual pupil: “Had he chosen painting instead of statesmanship, I believe he would have been a great master with the brush.”

  In painting, Churchill had discovered a companion with whom he was to walk for the greater part of the years that remained to him. After the war, painting would  offer deep solace when, in 1921, the death of the mother was followed two months later by the loss of his and Clementine‘s beloved three-year-old  daughter, Marigold. Battered by grief, Winston took refuge at the home of friends in Scotland, finding comfort in his painting. He wrote to Clementine: “I went out and painted a beautiful river in the afternoon light with crimson and golden hills in the background. Alas I keep feeling the hurt of the Duckadilly (Marigold’s pet name)。”

  Historians have called the decade after 1929, when the Conservative government fell and Winston was out of office, his wilderness years. Politically he may have been wandering in barren places, a lonely fighter trying to awaken Britain to the menace of Hitler, but artistically that wilderness bore abundant fruit. During these years he often painted in the South of France. Of the 500-odd canvases extant, roughly 250 date from 1930 to 1939.

  Painting remained a joy to Churchill to the end of his life. “Happy are the painters,” he had written in his book Painting as a Pastime, “ for they shall not be lonely. Light and color, peace and hope, will keep them company to the end of the day.” And so it was for my father.


  我的父亲,温斯顿·丘吉尔,在他四十多岁时开始迷恋上绘画,当时环境异常恶劣。那是在1915年,任海军大臣的他,积极投身于在达达尼尔海峡的一场战役中,这场战役本可以缩短那段血雨腥风的世界大战。但由于遭受失败,伤亡惨重,丘吉尔于公于私都付出了代价。他被从海军部调离且实则坐起了冷板凳。

  在灾难的折磨下——他的妻子克莱门廷说:“我想他会痛苦而死,”——他携家带口来到萨利郡的一处乡间静居霍·华姆。在那儿,丘吉尔后来回忆道,“是绘画中的冥思拯救了我!”

  一天他在花园散步时,偶然看到他的弟媳在用水彩作画。他观察了几分钟,然后向她借了画笔并一试身手。他的专注仿佛给他施了魔法!

  丘吉尔很快就决定试试去画油画。看到他从阴暗的忧郁思中解脱出来,克莱门廷非常开心,她赶忙去买所有能买到的颜料。

  然而,迈出下一步似乎有些困难,因为丘吉尔看到一块新画布的洁白无暇时感到无所适从和为难。他先从天空画起,后来他描述如何“非常谨慎地在调色板上加入一点儿蓝色调,然后以万分的小心,在这块被蓄意冒犯的雪白的防护板上点上豌豆大的一笔。这时,传来一阵驾驶机动车的马达声。约翰·拉威利先生才华出众的太太从这辆车中姗然而下。

  “‘在画画呀!’她高声说着。‘可你还在犹豫什么呢?给我那支笔——那支头号的。’只见松油飞溅,她在蓝白颜料间挥毫泼墨,在调色板上龙飞凤舞,接着在吓得发皱的油画布上用力东戳西捣几下蓝色。”

  那时,约翰·拉威利——丘吉尔的邻居,也是一位有名的画家—正教丘吉尔学画。后来提及他的这位特殊的学生,拉威利说:“倘若他选择绘画而不是从政,我相信他会是位绘画大师的。”

  在绘画中,丘吉尔找到了能陪他度过余生大部分时光的知已。战后,在1921年,母亲刚去世两个月,他和克莱门廷就失去了他们深爱着的三岁女儿玛丽戈尔德,这时作画给了他一些安慰。在痛苦的打击下,温斯顿来到苏格兰朋友们的家中以求得安慰,用绘画来解脱自己。他在给克莱门廷的信中说:“我出外画了一条夕阳下美丽的溪流,背后映衬着晚霞的群山。唉,达克迪莉(玛丽戈尔德的昵称)使我的苦痛总是挥之不去。

  史学家把1929年后的十年,也就是保守党政府垮台而温斯顿下台的时间,称为他的荒凉岁月。政治上,他一直在举步维艰的处境中徘徊,是一个孤独的勇士在努力唤起受到希特勒威胁的国人,但在艺术上他在那荒凉岁月却硕果累累。这些年他经常在法国南部作画。在现存的500多张油画中,大约250张是1930至1939年间的作品。

  绘画给丘吉尔带来了乐趣直到他的人生尽头。在他所著的《画中的消遣》里说:“画家其乐融融,因为他们不会孤独。光与色,和平与希望,会始终伴随他们。”我父亲就是这样一个人。

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