A primitive painting by the Italian painter Cimabue becomes the most expensive sold in the world

  • Auction

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Edouard Bernaux / ABACAPRESS.COM

More than 24 million euros the table! “Christ Mocked”, a very rare masterpiece of the Italian painter Cimabue (1272-1302), became this Sunday, October 27, the most expensive primitive painting auctioned in the world. It was sold for more than 24 million euros, including fees, at a historic auction in Senlis, Oise. The sum was 19.5 million under the hammer, without the costs. The work was estimated between 4 and 6 million euros.

Actaeon, who organized the sale, did not specify what was the profile of the purchaser of this table, found by chance during a move, in the house of an elderly lady in Compiegne. This is the first time in decades that a painting of Cimabue was under the hammer. “This painting becomes the primitive painting (pre-1500) the most expensive in the world (…) and also the 8th most expensive old painting in the world behind the Salvator Mundi of Leonardo da Vinci (2017), The massacre of the Innocents of Rubens (2002), Loth and his daughters of Rubens (2016), the portrait of Cosimo de Medici de Pontormo (1989), the Portrait of Woman of Rembrandt (2000), the portrait of Laurent de Medicis by Raphael (2007) and the Grand Canal Canaletto (2005) “, said in a statement Actaeon, who had first said it was the 7th.

The little painting was hanging between the living room and the kitchen of an old lady

The auction started at 3 million euros. Of the eight bidders, three were in the room. “This record proves that today we can sell an art object from anywhere in the world thanks to the power of platforms such as Interencheres,” says Dominique le Coënt, director of the group Acteon, which gathers houses in Senlis, Chantilly, Compiègne, Lille and Paris. “The Mocked Christ” is the theme of this small painting (25.8 cm by 20.3 cm), painting with egg and gold background on poplar panel, element of a diptych of 1280 in which were represented on eight panels of similar size scenes of the Passion.

Two of the scenes were known to date: The Flagellation of Christ (Frick Collection, New York) and The Virgin and Child enthroned and surrounded by two angels (National Gallery, London). An old lady, at whose home the work was kept, had reported it to the Acteon sales house at Compiegne, without being able to say where it came from. The little picture, which shows Christ surrounded by a crowd of men with a snarling and grimacing expression, was hung between his living room and his kitchen, above a hot plate.

>> To © All Rights Reserved: The most expensive painting in the world will it reappear in the Louvre?

“The traces of the old frame, the little round dots executed in the same way with the punch, the style, the ornamentation of the gold background, the correspondence of the backs of the panels and the respective state of the three panels confirm that these panels were the left flap of the same diptych “, explained the auction house, after having analyzed by the firm Turquin, expert for the ancient works of art in Paris. Infrared reflectography revealed an underlying design and an excellent state of preservation, despite some minor alterations. The pictorial layer is in excellent condition although very dirty over the centuries.

Interest from all the major museums of the world

“We have had interest from all the major museums around the world, and collectors of contemporary art we did not know were also very interested, which is quite a new phenomenon. we experts in ancient painting, “reported Eric Turquin. “Even if the painting is austere, there is an emotion in the faces, the gestures”, assures the expert for the old works of art.


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