A long-lost painting by a 13th-century Italian master discovered in the kitchen of an elderly French woman has been valued at up to €6 million and will be sold at auction next month.
The Christ Mocked painting by early Renaissance artist Cimabue was valued at €4 million to €6 million by old masters specialist Eric Turquin and will be sold by auction house Acteon in Senlis, north of Paris, on October 27th.
For years, the painting had hung close to a cooking plate in the kitchen of an elderly lady in Compiègne, north of Paris. It was found to be a Cimabue when an auction house specialist came to value her possessions.
Mr Turquin said there was no doubt about the authenticity of the painting, as it was in the style of the Italian master and tunnels made by woodworms in its poplar wood panel match those of two similar Cimabues, a Madonna Enthroned in London’s National Gallery and The Flagellation of Christ in the Frick Collection in New York.
“This is an important work in art history. Cimabue pushed the envelope, he broke with the Greek style of painting with no perspective and he introduced humanity. In 1280, that was totally new, he was a revolutionary,” Mr Turquin told Reuters.
The painting, executed in egg tempera, shows the figure of Christ surrounded by an angry crowd who have come to arrest him.
Mr Turquin said the tiny painting – measuring just 20 by 26cm – is believed to be part of a diptych consisting of eight small panels. It may have been cut apart by an art dealer in the 19th century to get a better price.
“Works by Cimabue are very rare. When I was an art student, I would never have dared to think that one day I would have the chance to hold a painting like this,” he said.
The sale will be the first instance of a Cimabue painting coming to market and will be the first chance to value the artist’s work, the auction house said.
Born in Florence, Cimabue, also known as Cenni di Pepo, was a pioneering Italian primitive painter. Only about 10 known works of his have survived. He was one of the first to use perspective and paint in a more natural style that broke with medieval and Byzantine traditions. – Reuters