Visitors are often surprised to see Churchill and Roosevelt sitting on a bench on Bond Street. By Amy Raphael.
If you happened to walk past Allies, the life-size bronze sculpture of Sir Winston Churchill and Franklin Delano Roosevelt sitting on a wooden bench on Bond Street, you might wonder what they were talking about. There’s FDR, looking relatively laid-back and Churchill, leaning into the conversation. We will never know what is being discussed in Lawrence Holofcener’s sculpture, but we do know that the British prime minister visited the American president many times during World War II, sometimes at FDR’s home in Hyde Park, New York – and, when FDR died in office in April 1945, Churchill wrote, ‘It is cruel he will not see the Victory which he did so much to achieve.’
Holofcener, an Anglo-American artist who died in 2017, was famous in later life for his life-size sculptures of historical figures (there’s a solo, younger Churchill in the Hyatt Regency hotel). It is Allies, however, that has consistently captured the public’s imagination since it was unveiled on Bond Street in 1995 by Her Royal Highness Princess Margaret, to mark a half-century after the end of World War II. It’s a work of art that celebrates power, but also peace.
A gift from the members of the Bond Street Association to the City of Westminster, the sculpture seems to invite members of the public to take a seat between FDR and Churchill. As such, it offers a perfect tourist moment, a reliable image for the Instagram grid.
‘Allies has consistently captured the public’s imagination since it was unveiled on Bond Street in 1995’
Before he died, Holofcener revealed that he didn’t make a maquette of Allies, claiming his “impetuous” nature made him too impatient for fiddling around with models. However, when a gallery owner suggested he might make some money out of miniature versions of Allies, Holofcener set to work, making 50 quarter-size replicas. In 2012, one of the bronze maquettes sold for over £409,250 at Bonhams, but the real deal is on Bond Street for everyone to enjoy.
Amy Raphael was previous features editor of both The Face and Elle and has written for UK Esquire, NME, Rolling Stone and Sight and Sound