30 Oct 2019

Recently Discovered Cimabue Sold for €24million

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The auction sale of the Cimabue painting whose discovery made news last month shattered estimates and (understandably enough) hit record levels for Old Master paintings.

The Guardian has the story.

An tiny early Renaissance masterpiece found in a French woman’s kitchen during a house clearance has fetched more than €24m at auction, making it the most expensive medieval painting ever sold.

Christ Mocked, by the 13th-century Florentine painter Cimabue, had hung for decades above a cooking hotplate in the open-plan kitchen of a 1960s house near Compiègne, north of Paris. It had never attracted much attention from the woman, in her 90s, or her family, who thought it was simply an old icon from Russia. It might have ended up in a bin during the house move this summer had it not been spotted by an auctioneer who had come to value furniture.

At an auction outside Paris on Sunday, the unsigned work, measuring just 26cm by 20cm, fetched €19.5m under the hammer, rising to over €24m when fees were included.

The Actéon auction house in Senlis said in a statement that the sale was the biggest for a medieval painting and the eighth highest for a medieval or old master painting. The painting now ranks alongside works by Leonardo da Vinci, Rubens, Rembrandt and Raphael in the top 10 of most expensive old painting sales.

“When a unique work of a painter as rare as Cimabue comes to market, you have to be ready for surprises,” said Dominique Le Coent, who heads the Actéon auction house in Senlis. “This is the only Cimabue that has ever come on the market.”

As 800 people gathered in the auction hall in Senlis, the crowd fell silent during the nail-biting final moments of bidding. Some bids came in by telephone to agents. As the auctioneer brandished his hammer as the price crept up, he said: “There will never be another Cimabue at auction.”

Actéon did not reveal the identity of the buyer but said a foreign museum had been among the bidders.

The painting had hung on the kitchen wall for so long that the woman, who asked to remain anonymous, told the auction house she had no idea where it had come from or how it had come into the family’s hands.

Cimabue, also known as Cenni di Pepo, was one of the pioneering artists of the early Italian Renaissance. Only 11 works painted on wood have been attributed to him, none of them signed.

RTWT

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