A still life of a vase of roses by Winston Churchill is among the most intriguing consignments in the auction of the Vivien Leigh collection.
Churchill presented the painting to the Gone with the Wind star at a dinner party in 1951.
Churchill became friends with Leigh in 1936
The unlikely friendship began in 1936, when they met on a movie set.
They hit it off straight away.
Leigh and her husband would regularly go and stay with the Churchills at their home in Kent.
Churchill was a keen painter. He took up the hobby in the early 1900s, but was shy about his work and rarely showed it to anyone else.
He sometimes gave paintings to heads of state, but these tended to be landscapes. Flowers were reserved for very close friends and family.
Leigh was deeply moved by the gift and hung it on the wall opposite her bed.
She would later say: "Whenever I feel particularly low or depressed I look at those three rosebuds.
“The thought and the friendship in the painting is such a great encouragement to me."
Frances Christie, head of modern & post-war British art at Sotheby’s, said: “Churchill’s gift of a still life of roses to Vivien speaks volumes about the respect and regard he felt for her.
“Theirs was not a passing acquaintance, but a friendship that endured for more than twenty years.
“He inspired her to begin painting and it is poignant to think that they shared a mutual solace in an activity where they found a refuge from all the trials and tribulations of daily life.”
The work is valued at £70,000-100,000 ($91,278-130,398) ahead of the September 26 sale. In recent years we’ve seen growing demand for Churchill’s artwork, including a £461,000 ($601,134) result for his Troops Going to the Front in 2015.
Other highlights of the sale include Leigh's own copy of Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind.
Please sign up to our free newsletter to receive exciting news about art and photography auctions.