A wooden panel by the Italian painter Cimabue, which hung in a French woman’s kitchen for decades and was auctioned for 24 million euros, will eventually go to the Louvre.
That was quite a sensation in the autumn of 2019. A 90-year-old woman had brought a wooden panel measuring 28.5 by 20.3 centimeters to the Actéon auction house. The edges of the work were damaged and the painting was not really in top condition. It had been hanging above her stove in the kitchen for years and the woman actually thought it was an icon. It showed a Biblical scene in which Christ is mocked by a crowd of bystanders.
However, the auction house’s appraiser thought it was something else. He identified it as a painting by the Italian painter Cimabue (1272-1302). That was an Italian Primitive born in Florence. Only about ten works of his are currently known. According to the Actéon auctioneer, it was the first time that a painting of his was offered on the art market.
Rare as it was, surpassed The mockery of Christ well beyond the estimate of between 4 and 6 million euros. It was set at 24.2 million euros. The owner died shortly after the auction. The proceeds were divided among her three heirs.
Part of eight-part altarpiece
According to The Art Newspaper the work was purchased at auction for the Alana collection in the American state of Delaware. The French minister of culture put a stop to that. He gave the painting the status of national heritage. As a result, it was not allowed to leave France for the next thirty months.
During that period, the Louvre, with the help of its donors, managed to raise the amount. Director Laurence des Cars said the work “dates from a crucial period in art history, at the fascinating transition from icon to painting.” The new addition will be next to it Maesta to hang, a tempera by Cimabue from the same period around 1280. It has been hanging in the Louvre since 1813, after Napoleon stole it in Italy.
This has now become apparent The mockery of Christ the missing part is from an eight-part altarpiece. It depicts the suffering of Christ. It could be identified with certainty because it has the same dimensions and color as the other parts. The wooden panel comes from the same poplar plank as the rest of the altar. The wormholes also connect to each other.