- Exhibition of paintings by Winston Churchill and Moroccan artist Hassan El Glaoui opens in London
- Churchill credited with allowing El Glaoui, son of the Pasha of Marrakech, to pursue dream of painting
- Marrakech was important to Churchill; his only painting from Wold War II is of the city
- Though he was an amateur artist, paintings by Churchill can now command up to $1 million at auction
He steered Great Britain through the perils of World War II and is recognized as one of the most important statesmen of the 20th century.
But away from the world of politics, Winston Churchill was also an avid painter, drawn to scenes of stately homes in the UK, picturesque fields in France and vibrant Moroccan landscapes.
Though he always saw himself as an amateur, he was quick to spot talent in others.
Now, for the first time, paintings of Marrakech in Morocco by Churchill are being shown alongside those of Moroccan artist Hassan el Glaoui, who throughout his life credited Churchill with convincing his father -- the Pasha of Marrakech -- to let him pursue his dream of becoming a painter.
"The Pasha of Marrakesh was quite a fearful character and had great influence politically and great wealth, and the idea that his son was going to be a painter clearly wouldn't have come naturally to him," said Daniel Robbins, curator of the exhibition "Meetings in Marrakech" at Leighton House Museum in London.
In 1943, the Pasha showed the visiting Churchill some paintings by his son and asked for his opinion.
Churchill approved and the young Hassan was subsequently allowed to train as a painter in Paris.
"There weren't many people that the Pasha would listen to but if Churchill said it was alright to be painter, he could accommodate that desire," said Robbins.
Hassan El Glaoui's career took off and he has since exhibited his work in Europe and the US, as well as in Morocco.
At a sale at Christie's auction house in Paris in 2007, a painting by El Glaoui sold for 42,000 Euros ($54,000).
Though El Glaoui was never able to meet and thank Churchill, the exhibition at Leighton House Museum -- which was first proposed by the artist's daughter -- is a belated meeting between the two painters.
Churchill's granddaughter Celia Sandys, who helped organize the show, had been unaware of the role her father played in El Glaoui's artistic career, but said that she was "enchanted to hear it."