Four Eggs on a Plate by Lucian Freud, 2002

Sunday, May 31, 2015
Four Eggs on a Plate by Lucian Freud, 2002

A Gift from Lucian Freud to the Late Dowager Duchess of Devonshire: Four Eggs on a Plate, 2002. Painting reveals a remarkable friendship between two of the defining figures of our time.

Four Eggs on a Plate by Lucian Freud, 2002

A Gift from Lucian Freud to the Late Dowager Duchess of Devonshire: Four Eggs on a Plate, 2002. Painting reveals a remarkable friendship between two of the defining figures of our time.

Four Eggs on a Plate, 2002, was given to the late Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, affectionately known as "Debo”, as a gift by the painter Lucian Freud in 2004. Now, the remarkable story of an enduring friendship between two of the defining figures of our time is revealed as the painting is offered for sale at Sotheby's in London. Debo was the youngest of the six Mitford sisters who captivated British society in the 1940s and 50s - marrying Andrew Cavendish in 1941. Cavendish became the 11th Duke of Devonshire in 1950 and Debo then dedicated her life to the running of the Chatsworth. Debo was famed for a somewhat eccentric pursuit for a society beauty: a passion for chickens. Freud’s gift is a tender memento of a lifelong bond between the great artist and the larger-than-life duchess, “Good old Lu. I take him eggs every time I go to London”, Debo recalled. Estimated £100,000–150,000, Four Eggs on a Plate, will be offered as part of Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction on 1 July.

Oliver Barker, Sotheby’s Senior International Specialist in Contemporary Art:

“We’re incredibly excited to be offering a work of such personal significance to both Lucian Freud and the late Dowager Duchess of Devonshire. This small, exquisitely beautiful painting was a treasured gift and today it stands as a token of their enduring friendship. Four Eggs on a Plate is a painting like no other. We see Freud’s tremendous virtuosity as a painter, transforming a simple subject into a work of extraordinary power - and we see the portrait of a friendship between an artist and a duchess.” 

Deborah, Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, died aged 94, in September 2014. She had keptFour Eggs on a Plate, a treasured gift from the painter Lucian Freud, wrapped in cloth from the artist’s studio in a blue box with a note: “Box & rag he uses in his studio containing the painting of 4 eggs given me by Lucian Freud autumn 2002, DD”. This gift, a startlingly beautiful still life, is a painting laden with meaning for both artist and recipient. When offered at Sotheby’s on July 1st, the lot will include the note, the artist’s cloth, and the blue box in which it was kept.

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Yves Klein, IKB Godet, 1958, dry pigment, synthetic resin on gauze on panel. Private collection. ©Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris.

Yves Klein, IKB Godet, 1958, dry pigment, synthetic resin on gauze on panel. Private collection. ©Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris.

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