A long-lost religious painting by Renaissance master Cimabue has been found after spending years hanging in an elderly woman’s kitchen.
The Mocking of Christ has spent the past several years displayed above a cooking hot-plate on the wall of a French apartment near Paris.
But when auctioneer Philomène Wolf was brought in to value the apartment’s contents before its owner (a woman in her 90’s) moved out, the rarely-noticed masterpiece was rediscovered.
The image could change the life of the woman from the town of Compiegne who had no idea where the painting – which she thought was a Greek religious icon – had come from.
It’s now believed the small artwork could fetch anywhere from €4 million ($6.5 million) to an astounding €6 million ($9.7 million) when it goes under the hammer on October 27.
The painting is reportedly believed to have been part of a ‘polyptych’ (several painted wooded plates connected by a hinge that opens like a book) that was painted in 1280, depicting eight scenes from the story of Jesus’ crucifixion.
Two other pieces from that series ‘The Virgin and Child with Two Angels’ and ‘The Flagellation of Christ’ now hang in the National Gallery in London and the Frick Collection in New York respectively.
Much like the latest discovery, Florentine artist Cimabue’s The Virgin and Child with Two Angels also went missing for several years before turning up in the ancestral home of a British aristocrat.
Art expert Eric Turquin – who valued the painting – said there was “no disputing” that Cimabue was responsible for the piece, according to The Guardian.
Cimabue was born in Florence circa 1240, and is largely credited as the first major artist to break with traditional Italo-Byzantine traditions.
Instead, Cimabue painted figures with more life-like proportions and included more shading than other artists of the time.
By some accounts, Cimabue was also the man who taught Giotto – the forefather of the Italian Renaissance movement – to paint.
However, records of Cimabue’s early life are scarce and his role in the origins of the Renaissance has not been confirmed.