SENLIS, France — A medieval portray that hung for years close to the kitchen of an older Frenchwoman earlier than being acknowledged as a piece by the Italian artist Cimabue was auctioned on Sunday in France for $26.eight million.
The unsigned tempera panel of “The Mocking of Christ” was the primary work believed to have been painted by Cimabue — thought-about the “father” of Western portray — to promote at public sale in residing reminiscence. Estimated to promote for four million to six million euros in an public sale of low-value antiques, it will definitely fetched €24.2 million with charges on the regional public sale home Actéon, north of Paris.
The worth was believed to be the best for a European previous grasp portray at public sale since Leonardo’s “Salvator Mundi” offered for a record-shattering $450.three million at Christie’s in 2017.
The work was purchased by the London-based vendor Fabrizio Moretti in opposition to competitors from no less than six different bidders.
“I bought it on behalf of two collectors,” Mr. Moretti stated in an interview instantly after the public sale. “It’s one of the most important old master discoveries in the last 15 years. Cimabue is the beginning of everything. He started modern art. When I held the picture in my hands, I almost cried.”
Mr. Moretti stated the attribution to Cimabue (lively 1272-1302) was “certain” and that the value was “big, but fair.”
The 10-inch-high poplar panel was found in June throughout a valuation of the contents of the home of an older Frenchwoman close to Compiègne, north of Paris. Thought by the household to be an icon, the portray held on a wall subsequent to the kitchen.
“I had a rare emotion with this little painting, almost indescribable,” stated Philomène Wolf of Actéon, who had made the invention. “In our profession, we know that this emotion was the result of a great master.”
Nothing is understood of the historical past of the portray’s earlier possession.
Actéon consulted Eric Turquin, the Paris-based artwork professional on previous masters, who collaborated on the sale of the portray. In June, Mr. Turquin was the co-seller of a portray attributed to Caravaggio that was offered privately for an undisclosed worth to the American collector J. Tomilson Hill.
Mr. Turquin said his research identified the Compiègne panel as “the only small-scale work of devotion to have been recently added to the catalog of authentic works by Cimabue.” It was described as being in “excellent general condition.”
“This was an easy sale,” Mr. Turquin said, comparing the auction of the Cimabue to the canceled public sale in June of the “Judith and Holofernes” attributed to Caravaggio.
“I was pleased at 10 million and tremendously happy at 15 million,” he said of the Cimabue sale. “The price was more than I could have dreamed, and there was a contemporary art gallery bidding, which was new for us.”
According to Mr. Turquin, “The Mocking of Christ” was part of the same late-13th-century altarpiece that once included Cimabue’s similarly sized “Flagellation of Christ,” now in the Frick Collection in New York, and the “Madonna and Child Enthroned Between Two Angels,” now in the National Gallery in London.
The Frick acquired its Cimabue in 1950. The “Madonna and Child” was scheduled to be auctioned at Sotheby’s in 2000, but was sold to the National Gallery by private treaty for about 7.2 million pounds, about $10.8 million. Discovered in a house in Suffolk, in eastern England, it had been estimated to sell for £10 million, according to Artnet.
Traces of the original framing, the style and technique of the gold ornamentation and the pattern of wormholes on the back of the Cimabue panel “confirm that these panels made up the left side of the same diptych,” Mr. Turquin said in a pre-auction statement.
Cimabue pioneered a more fluent and naturalistic style of figure painting in Italy. Only a dozen fully accepted works on panel are known to survive. All are unsigned. The most celebrated of these is the “Crucifixion” in Santa Croce, Florence, a painting badly damaged by flooding in 1966.
The Florence painter takes up the first biography in Giorgio Vasari’s hugely influential “Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors and Architects,” published in 1550. Vasari describes how Cimabue emancipated himself from the “stiff manner” of Byzantine artists and was “the first cause of the revival of painting” before Giotto “overshadowed his renown.”