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A Standing Figure of Winston Churchill by Franta Belsky
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A Standing Figure of Winston Churchill by Franta Belsky

Circa 1976

Measurements: Height: 23cm (9in)

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Bronze resin miniature model of Belsky’s statue of Churchill sited outside the church of St Mary Aldermanbury at Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri, where in 1946 Churchill coined the phrase ‘iron curtain’ during his Sinews of Peace speech. Signed ‘F. Belsky copyright 1976’.

Franta Belsky, F.R.B.S. (1921-2000) was the son of an eminent Czech economist and left his homeland with his family following the German occupation of Sudetenland in 1938. In England in 1940 Belsky volunteered for the Czech army in exile and, encountered Churchill when he inspected his unit. In 1944 he served in Normandy with the 1st Czechoslovak Independent Armoured Brigade Group  and was twice mentioned in despatches, once for continuing to repair a telephone line while under heavy fire. He received a number of Czech decorations for bravery. After the war Belsky returned to Prague, where he created the Paratroop Memorial and designed a medal in honour of the Czech Olympic athlete Emil Zatopek before having to flee Czechoslovakia again following the Communist takeover in 1948. As well as statues and busts, Belsky was responsible for many abstract designs on a heroic scale. His 1958 ‘Triga on the former sight the Tattersalls in London - a 30 foot-high group of three rearing horses - being a case in point.

In 1969  he executed his commission for Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri for an eight-foot bronze of Churchill to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the ‘Iron Curtain’ speech. Among Churchill sculptors only Oscar Nemon escaped criticism, either from the subject or his family or friends. Belsky was no exception, although the criticism he received was nowhere near as bad as that which had been given to Jacob Epstein's 1946 bust, David McFall's 1959 statue in Woodford, or that which would be given to Ivor Roberts Jones' 1976 ‘deformed giant’ in Parliament Square. Belsky produced no fewer than nine half-scale models before completing the Fulton statue, and it was his habit to seal inside each of his castings a Guinness bottle, a copy of the day's newspaper, a sixpence, and a note declaring that Franta Belsky was responsible.
 

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