Chris took inspiration for this painting from a picture that he saw in Smithsonian Magazine. Art is so much about symbolism, placement, and subtlety so much of the time, and this painting is no exception.  There is SO much going on in this picture, I’ll just have to get right to it.

The main three men depicted in the painting are Winston Churchill, FDR, and Joseph Stalin.

Churchill – He’s depicted smoking a cigar & with a pig’s foot in place of one of his hands. In the years after England was bombed, as his people lived in shambles and extreme poverty, Churchill was notorious for continuing to smoke his cigars, and drink his liquor. This earned him an infamous reputation as a “pig” for his lavish lifestyle, despite the suffering all around him.

FDR- Can clearly be seen leaning in the direction of Stalin. Chris says that this is indicative of his decisions to give so much of Eastern Europe to Stalin’s forces, even so late in the war. He’s facing Churchill, but clearly leaning to Stalin’s side. His hand is even beginning to become gnarled like Stalin’s are.

Stalin – His hands are gnarled up and demonic/animalistic in appearance. He has a cheeky grin on his face, pleased with the direction and progress of things so far.

The Raven – Often a symbol of impending doom and death in literature and art. Conveniently perched between Churchill and FDR.

The Owl- Symbolizing secrecy, stealth, wisdom, and things hidden. He watches from over Stalin’s shoulder.

There are images of soldiers fighting the war off in the background of the painting, reminding the viewer of the “grunt work” of fighting that was taking place while these men held their meetings and decided the fate of much of the free world at that point.

The man pictured over Chruchill’s shoulder – His countenance bears a striking resemblance to what many of us would imagine the devil’s face to appear like. Chris says that he painted the devil into this picture so that, “he can be there making sure it all goes down the right way”. He uses influences from lyrics from the classic rock song “Sympathy for the Devil” by The Rolling Stones.  The song references the devil being present in times like when Pilate washed his hands of Christ’s blood, and “watching with glee, as kings and queens fought for decades…” Take a listen to the song while looking at this painting, it’ll definitely make you stop and think for a while.

Art is all about symbolism, emotion, and interpretation. I think Chris did a fantastic job of all of these in this painting. Take a look…Take a listen… Think, and Tell me your opinion.


Chris Cook is a premier southern artist and owner of Madison Studios, a web design, maintenance, and e-commerce and marketing company. For his artist biography, contact information, or to view more of his work, click HERE.

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