'Mocking of Christ': Cimabue's $6 Million Masterpiece Is Rediscovered in French Woman's Kitchen

  • September 24, 2019 13:13

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Cimabue, "Mocking of Christ"
Actéon and Eric Turquin
A long-lost work by 13th century Florentine master Cenni di Pepo, known as Cimabue (active 1272-1302), has been found to be hanging over a kitchen hot plate in France.

Cimabue's "Mocking of Christ" could bring around 6 million Euros ($6.59 million) at auction next month, according to Acteon, the auctioneers in charge of the sale on October 27 in the French city of Senlis.

Collaborating on the sale is Paris-based Cabinet Turquin whose specialists Jerome Montcouquil and Eric Turquin analyzed the work over the summer. Turquin believes the piece is from Cimabue's polyptych centered on the passion and crucifixion of Christ. Worm holes help to date the panel to 1280, Turquin told The Art Newspaper, although other scholars have yet to weigh in publicly.

It is thought to be the first ever work by Cimabue offered at public auction.

Montcouquil said, "There are only eleven of his paintings in the world - they are rare."

Two other related panels, Flagellation of Christ and the Madonna and Child Enthroned between Two Angels, were bought by the Frick Collection in New York in 1950 and the National Gallery in London in 2000, respectively.

The consignor is the family of an elderly French woman, from the town of Compiegne outside Paris, who hung the painting in her kitchen for years thinking it was a Greek religious icon. The family does not how the piece was acquired, according to auctioneer Philomène Wolf who found the 10-inch tempera on poplar panel during a house call.

Despite hanging in a food-centered location, the gold-painted work is described as in "excellent condition."

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