Art & Politics: Churchill's bust back in Oval Office?

September 13 2011

Image of Art & Politics: Churchill's bust back in Oval Office?

Picture: AFP

Mitt Romney, the sanest of the Republican candidates for the 2012 presidential elections, has declared that if he won, he would put Winston Churchill's bust back in the Oval Office. The bust, by Jacob Epstein, was lent to the Bush administration by the UK Government after 9/11 - but returned by Barack Obama in 2008. Romney said:

You know, one of -- one of my heroes was a man who had an extraordinary turn of phrase. He once said about us, he said, you know, you can count on the Americans to get things right after they've exhausted all the alternatives. And now and then we've made a couple of mistakes. We're quite a nation. And this man, Winston Churchill, used to have his bust in the Oval Office. And if I'm president of the United States, it'll be there again.

Epstein's Churchill is not a nice image - in fact, it's positively ghoulish. I wasn't that surprised that Obama, a man of taste, sent it back. If the UK had sent one of Oscar Nemon's infinitely superior busts of Churchill, might it not have been thrown out? 

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