Masterpiece found in French woman’s kitchen sells for more than £20m

Masterpiece found in French woman’s kitchen sells for more than £20m

An old painting found in the kitchen of an elderly French woman who considered it of little importance has made her a multimillionaire.

The work, a masterpiece attributed to the 13th-century Italian painter Cimabue that was discovered earlier this year, sold for 24 million euros (£20.7 million).

Dominique Le Coent of Acteon Auction House, who sold the work to an anonymous buyer near Chantilly, north of Paris, said the sale represented a “world record for a primitive, or a pre-1500 work”.

Mr Le Coent said: “It’s a painting that was unique, splendid and monumental. Cimabue was the father of the Renaissance. But this sale goes beyond all our dreams.”

There's never been a Cimabue painting on sale so there was no reference previously on how much it could make

An auctioneer spotted the painting in June while inspecting a woman’s house in Compiegne in northern France and suggested she bring it to experts for an evaluation.

It hung on a wall between the kitchen and dining room and its owner had considered it of little importance.

The woman will now receive “the majority” of the sale money, the auction house said.

The expected sale price had been four million to six million euros (£3.4 million to £5.1 million).

Mr Le Coent said experts were off the mark because it was the first time a Cimabue had ever gone under the hammer.

“There’s never been a Cimabue painting on sale so there was no reference previously on how much it could make,” he explained.

The painting, titled Christ Mocked, measures about 10in by 8in (24cm by 20cm).

Art expert Stephane Pinta takes out of a glass case a painting by Italian master Cimabue in Paris (Michel Euler/AP)
Art expert Stephane Pinta takes out of a glass case a painting by Italian master Cimabue in Paris (Michel Euler/AP)

Art experts say it is probably part of a larger diptych that Cimabue painted in around 1280, of which two other panels are displayed at the Frick Collection in New York and the National Gallery in London.

The painting’s discovery has sent ripples of excitement through the art world.

Cimabue, who taught Italian master Giotto, is widely considered the forefather of the Italian Renaissance.

He broke from the Byzantine style popular in the Middle Ages and began to incorporate elements of movement and perspective that came to characterise Western painting.

Specialists at the Turquin gallery in Paris initially examined the painting and concluded with “certitude” that it bore the hallmarks of Cimabue.

Stephane Pinta, an art specialist with the Turquin, pointed to likenesses in facial expressions and buildings, as well as the painter’s techniques for conveying light and distance.

More on this topic

Slawomir Sierakowski: France’s Emmanuel Macron risks political future if he becomes too ambitiousSlawomir Sierakowski: France’s Emmanuel Macron risks political future if he becomes too ambitious

France shuts down amid nationwide strike over pension reformsFrance shuts down amid nationwide strike over pension reforms

Tourists cancel travel plans as France prepares for massive transport strikeTourists cancel travel plans as France prepares for massive transport strike

Firms look to France for growthFirms look to France for growth

More in this Section

Temple Street Hospital patient Jake and the Coronas switch on Xmas lightsTemple Street Hospital patient Jake and the Coronas switch on Xmas lights

Volunteer Meath knitters create 6ft2 Christmas tree for communityVolunteer Meath knitters create 6ft2 Christmas tree for community

Facebook users sign up to event calling to chant ‘OK boomer’ at Boris JohnsonFacebook users sign up to event calling to chant ‘OK boomer’ at Boris Johnson

Cute, he is. Everything you need to know about Baby YodaCute, he is. Everything you need to know about Baby Yoda


Lifestyle

The Marquee in Cork dominated the gig news this week, with a string of announcements for what is expected to be the final year at the Monahan Road venue before the site is developedScene + Heard: The most played artist on Spotify and all the latest music news

Esther N McCarthy picks perfect paperweights, brilliant books and Christmas collectables this week.Brilliant books and Christmas collectables - here's our wish list

John Spillane tells Ellie O’Byrne how he’s hoping to fund his next album by taking the bardic route of writing unique compositions for people on whatever they’d like‘I’ll write you a song for €1,000' - John Spillane's unique way to fund new album

From starring in a Cork-set film, to securing a role in Ridley Scott’s major new HBO series, it has been quite a year for Niamh Algar, writes Esther McCarthyIreland’s next big thing: Niamh Algar on her incredible year

More From The Irish Examiner