Painting Hanging in Elderly Woman’s Kitchen Turns Out to Be 13th-Century Masterpiece

'Christ Mocked' by Cimabue

Photo: Pixel8tor via Wikimedia Commons (Public domain)

What is the most precious piece of art in your home? Did you purchase it from a local seller after you fell in love with their work? Or was it passed on from family member to family member before it ended up in your possession? Now, imagine if that piece of art turned out to be even more valuable than you originally thought, and curators from the Louvre were suddenly showing interest in purchasing it for their permanent collection.

This is precisely what happened to a 90-year-old French woman. Four years ago, she began clearing out her home ahead of a move, and had initially planned on throwing out the priceless piece of artwork. The painting, which depicted Jesus Christ surrounded by a small crowd of people, had been hanging above her hot plate for years, and the woman had no idea how special it was. Thankfully, her family stopped her, believing that it could be valuable, and they called in a fine art appraiser to assess the true price of the painting.

The appraiser estimated that it could be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, and also dropped the bombshell on the family that it was a long-lost painting  by Cimabue, a prolific Italian painter from the 13th century. He is considered by some to be one of the last great practitioners of the Byzantine style, which dominated parts of Eurasia through the 1450s. The painting, appropriately named Christ Mocked, is part of an eight part diptych which depicted the crucifixion and the passion of Christ. Other than Christ Mocked, only two other pieces from the diptych are accounted for, making the find extremely rare.

In 2019, the painting went to auction, where it was acquired by London-based dealer Fabrizio Moretti for €24.2 million ($26.8 million). Moretti's expensive bid drew the attention of the French government, who declared it to be a “national treasure,” which prevented the painting from leaving the country for 30 months after it was purchased. This was bad news for Moretti, but good news for the Louvre, as the delay gave them time to raise the funds to purchase the painting off of the art dealer.

Thanks to a successful mobilization of money and resources, the Louvre was able to acquire the painting and transport it to their museum for safe keeping. Christ Mocked is scheduled to be on display with another Cimabue piece, Maestà, at the museum this spring.

h/t: [Smithsonian Magazine]

Related Articles:

Palestinian Farmer Discovers an Ancient Byzantine Mosaic Under His Olive Grove

The Madonna and Child: How the Divine Duo Has Inspired Artists for Centuries

How Much Do You Know About the Italian Renaissance? Test Your Art Knowledge [Quiz]

Exploring the Heavenly History of Angels in Art

Sarah Currier

Sarah Currier is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met. Based in central Iowa, she is currently enrolled at Iowa State University and is working toward a BA in Journalism and Mass Communication with a minor in English. She loves all things creative, and when she’s not writing, you can find her immersed in the worlds of television, film, and literature.
Become a
My Modern Met Member
As a member, you'll join us in our effort to support the arts.
Become a Member
Explore member benefits

Sponsored Content