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Churchill photographer a proud Canadian

He was young, polite, and a rising star in the world of photography. His subject was the British prime minister, determined and defiant against the enemy during the Second World War.

He was young, polite, and a rising star in the world of photography.

His subject was the British prime minister, determined and defiant against the enemy during the Second World War.

In several moments in the Speaker’s Chambers after Sir Winston Churchill had addressed Parliament in 1941, Yousuf Karsh took two photos, creating the most famous image of Churchill and in the process, turning himself into a legend.

Sixty-eight years later, Estrellita Karsh told the story surrounding the moment in almost the exact spot where her late husband and Churchill stood when the iconic photo was taken.

“Yousuf said to Winston Churchill, ‘I hope I can make a portrait of this occasion,’” said Estrellita Karsh at an event at the Speaker’s Chambers yesterday, where she talked about the “Roaring Lion” portrait of the prime minister.

“(Churchill) said, ‘you may take one.’”

After Churchill refused to surrender his cigar, Karsh plucked it out of his mouth, his widow said. “Yousuf said later that he looked so fierce, he looked like a roaring lion.”

Indeed, the photographer filed the photograph under ‘R’ instead of ‘C’, she said.

Although a second photo — of a smiling Churchill — was taken, “the public liked the first one,” said Estrellita Karsh. “It became a symbol of British defiance during the Second World War.”

Yousuf Karsh “was so proud to be a Canadian,” she said.

Organized by the Portrait Gallery of Canada, the event was a part of Festival Karsh, a summer-long celebration marking the 100th anniversary of the photographer’s birth.

Estrellita Karsh also presented nine of her late husband’s portraits to the City of Ottawa yesterday. The portraits — all original prints — include those of Winston Churchill, Georgia O’Keeffe, Pierre Trudeau, Robertson Davies, Frederick Varley, Kenojuak Ashevak, Stephen Leacock, Jack Bush, and a self-portrait, that will be on exhibit at the Karsh-Masson Gallery from July 15 to 26.

 
 
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