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Art by Winston Churchill? Wartime leader's paintings on display in Palm Beach

Since its opening in 1930, Surfside’s venerable jazz-age Surf Club has courted visits from Elizabeth Taylor, Gen. Douglas MacArthur and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. But its most famous frequent guest was Winston Churchill, the British prime minister who painted watercolor seascapes inside his private cabana following World War II.

A collection of Churchill’s watercolors, including ones he painted at the Surf Club, compose the exhibit “A Man for All Seasons: The Art of Winston Churchill,” opening Saturday, Dec. 2, at the Society of the Four Arts in Palm Beach. Churchill painted some 500 watercolors between 1915 and his death in 1965, 28 of which will be displayed inside the Esther B. O’Keeffe Gallery.

The watercolors, which Churchill dubbed “joy rides in a paint-box,” became a refuge for the firebrand leader before and after the war. “Whatever the worries of the hour or the threats of the future, once the picture has begun to flow along, there is no room for them in the mental screen,” Churchill wrote.

Churchill is trending again these days. Hollywood this year released a pair of biopics about him, including “Churchill” and “The Darkest Hour,” the latter starring Gary Oldman, well disguised behind fake jowls and a receding hairline. It opened Nov. 22.

The show, organized by the National Churchill Museum at Westminster College in Fulton, Mo., will be accompanied by rare photos, wartime film clips, portraits and other historic memorabilia. Churchill’s granddaughter, Edwina Sandys, will discuss her grandfather’s life and art during a Dec. 9 lecture.

When: Saturday, Dec. 2, through Jan. 14 (art lecture at 11 a.m. Dec. 9)

Where: The Esther B. O’Keeffe Gallery at Society for the Four Arts, 2 Four Arts Plaza, Palm Beach

Cost: $5, free for lecture

Contact: 561-655-7226 or FourArts.org

pvalys@southflorida.com or 954-356-4364

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