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.

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