An old icon which hung in the kitchen over a stove for decades turned out to be the work of a renowned Italian artist and was sold for more than 26 million dollars at a recent auction. The lost painting known as “Christ Mocked” was discovered in northern France this September, in the apartment of a 90-year-old woman.
The woman decided to sell her house and invited an auctioneer to find out whether her belongings were items of value, and the world should be glad that she did. The auctioneer, who discovered the work of art, said if he hadn’t found time in his schedule to visit the house in Compiegne commune, the Renaissance masterpiece would have ended up at a flea market or the Emmaus charity, as the owners had planned.
After carrying out tests using infrared light, it was determined that the small painting measuring eight by ten inches (20 by 26 cm) was the work of the celebrated artist Cimabue, also known as Cenni di Pepo. The painting, which was in perfect condition, except for some grime, depicts Jesus Christ surrounded by a group of men with sneers on their faces.
Cimabue - Christ Mocked— Roberto Reitenbach (@BetoReitenbach) October 28, 2019
An elderly woman unaware of the importance of a long-lost painting in her kitchen has become a multi-millionaire after the artwork was sold at auction for €24m (£20.7m). pic.twitter.com/EXRY0POREq
Before going under the hammer it was expected to fetch more than 6 million dollars. The Acteon Auction House said the final 26 million dollar bid became a new world record for a medieval painting. Acteon did not reveal the name of the bidder but noted that museums were among the contenders to obtain the work.
The painting itself is believed to be a polyptych – a large work consisting of several paintings – and is dated from 1280. Two other known Cimabue works of this series can be seen at London's National Gallery and the Frick Collection in New York.
Cimabue was born in Florence in 1240 and is regarded as the father of the Renaissance movement.