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In Honor of Yousuf Karsh’s Birthday, his 1941 Portrait of Winston Churchill

Artsy Editorial
Dec 23, 2012 2:59PM

In 1941, Armenian-Canadian photographer Yousuf Karsh captured this renowned image of then-British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. A few years later, LIFE Magazine paid Karsh $100 to featured the image on their May 21, 1945 cover, catapulting Karsh to fame. Taking the photograph wasn’t such an easy process, however; immediately following a speech before the House of Commons, a grouchy Churchill was brought to where Karsh had his lights set up and waiting. According to Karsh, the cigar-chewing Churchill “was in no mood for portraiture and two minutes were all that he would allow me.” Impulsively, Karsh leaned forward and removed Churchill’s cigar. “At this,” Karsh later wrote, “the Churchillian scowl deepened, the head was thrust forward belligerently, and the hand placed on the hip in an attitude of anger... I clicked the shutter.”

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