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Forgotten 13th Century Painting Of Christ Found in Old Woman's Kitchen Auctioned For $26.8 Million

The painting titled "Christ Mocked" was purchased by a London based art collector but it was bought back by the Louvre where it remains at present.
Cover Image Source: YouTube | Euro News
Cover Image Source: YouTube | Euro News

From the Holy Grail to the Arc of the Covenant, the list of artefacts lost in the sands of time is long, but some valuable objects have been found in the most unexpected places. Waking up one day and finding out that the painting hanging in your living room is a masterpiece is the kind of miracle most only wish for. But this is exactly how a forgotten 13th-century painting of Jesus Christ by Florentine artist Cimabue was discovered in an old woman's kitchen. According to Smithsonian Magazine, the art piece titled "Christ Mocked," the 10 by 8-inch painting is now being dubbed the French "national treasure," and it dates back to 1280. The painting depicts the condition of Jesus Christ before his crucification and was left forgotten and neglected for years above the 90-year-old French woman's kitchen hot plate.


CNN's Jack Guy found that the lady had no idea where the artwork came from and had assumed that it was a "Greek religious icon." Four years before experts discovered the painting, she was clearing out her home and was planning to throw it out before moving to a new location, as per The Guardian. Thankfully her family called in art experts to find out the value of the items on her property, and they figured out that the painting could be worth a fortune. The artist named Cimabue, whose real identity was Cenni di Pepo, has only left behind 15 known artworks.


The painting of Christ is valuable because it is part of a diptych, which includes eight scenes depicting the crucifixion and passion of Christ. Only two other works from the diptych are currently accounted for, per the outlet. A Paris-based art specialist, Erin Turquin, was summoned to help authenticate Cimabue's art. “We could have no doubts on the Cimabue attribution since this picture is clearly part of the same altarpiece,” he told Artnet in 2019. Turquin determined that the painting has the exact same dimensions, style and hues as the other two surviving pieces of art that are part of the diptych.

"Christ Mocked" went to auction in 2019 and famed London-based dealer Fabrizio Moretti acquired it for $26.8 million which was more than four times the estimated price. “I bought it on behalf of two collectors,” Moretti told ​​the New York Times after the auction. “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.” After the sale, the French government declared the painting a "national treasure" and prevented the art from leaving the country for the next 30 months.

Image Source:  The Louvre museum is pictured at dusk on March 05, 2024 in Paris, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
Image Source: The Louvre museum is pictured at dusk on March 05, 2024 in Paris, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

During that time, the Louvre Museum was given a chance to raise money and purchase the painting from Moretti's collectors. In 2023, France's minister of culture, Rima Abdul Malak and president and director of the Louvre, Laurence des Cars, revealed that they had successfully purchased the painting back to house it in the Louvre. “These acquisitions are the result of an exceptional mobilization of the Louvre museum, which allows to preserve in France works coveted by the greatest museums of the world and to make them accessible to all,” France’s culture ministry said in a statement. The Louvre now displays Cimabue's artwork to the public.


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