The best most people can ask of their kitchen is a delicious meal. But one French woman discovered a long-lost painting her home country considers a national treasure.
The medieval work in question was unearthed in the French town of Compiègne. The homeowner found the painting in 2019, which turned out to be The Mocking of Christ (pictured above) by Florentine artist Cenni di Pepo, known as Cimabue. Following a 4 year saga, the piece is now joining the Louvre’s collection.
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After art specialist Jerome Montcouquil conducted tests on the painting to determine its age and origin, it was estimated to have been created in 1280. The 10-by-8-inch work is part of a diptych made up of eight scenes centered on the passion and crucifixion of Christ. Only 15 of Cimabue’s works are known, which makes the painting a discovery of “major importance,” Rima Abdul Malak, France’s minister of culture, said in a statement. The ministry also called the painting “a crucial milestone in art history, marking the fascinating transition from icon to painting.”
In October 2019, the painting landed at an Actéon auction in France, where it fetched $26.8 million (four times the pre-sale estimate). Unfortunately for the buyer, the local government blocked its export and assigned the piece “national treasure status.” This kept the extremely rare painting in the country for another 30 months. During that time, the government raised the funds to buy it. The painting will join a larger Cimabue painting titled Maestà in the Louvre collection. Both will star in an exhibition event slated for spring 2025, the ministry says.
Cimabue was born in Florence around the year 1240. He is known in the art world as the discoverer of Giotto, a pre-Renaissance era artist with high acclaim. Another scene from Cimabue’s “Christ Mocked” painting is reportedly showcased in his piece titled The Virgin and Child with Two Angels. The National Gallery in London acquired the work in 2000. It too was lost for centuries before a British aristocrat found it in his home in Suffolk, AFP reports. One other work that belongs to the series, The Flagellation of Christ, is at the Frick Collection in New York.
Now that The Mocking of Christ’s four-year chronicle is over, there’s no better time to view its sister works between New York and London before its 2025 display in Paris. Wheels up.
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