View of the rear quarters of a skewbald mare, stood against a dark background and facing to the right, but with the head excluded from the picture. Freud painted the horse in its stable, at a riding centre for disadvantaged children close to his studio in Holland Park, London. The unusual composition is due to the fact that Freud felt that the head of the horse was weak, so he decided to concentrate on the rump.
The 11th Duke of Devonshire began collecting and commissioning work by Lucian Freud after the two men became friends in the late 1940s, and the collection now includes a number of works by the artist. Overall, Freud has painted six members of the 11th Duke's family over a period of 20 years.
It was the 11th Duke of Devonshire who was initially interested in acquiring Skewbald Mare, but he died before the sale was complete. The family decided to continue with the acquisition, particularly because Deborah, now Dowager Duchess of Devonshire admired the painting, having viewed it at the artist's studio during production.