13th Century Masterpiece of Jesus Gets Rescued Right Before Being Tossed in the Garbage
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A 13th-century painting discovered hanging in an elderly woman's kitchen a few years ago has been acquired by the Louvre after a four-year endeavour to keep the rare work of art in France.
The painting, Christ Mocked, also known as The Derison of Christ, was painted by the Florentine painter Cimabue around 1280, according to The Guardian. It depicts Jesus being tormented by the crowd before his crucifixion. Art historians believe it to be part of a diptych, one of eight panels illustrating the passion and crucifixion of Jesus Christ that were hinged together at one time for display.
It is a rare work of art and only two other examples are known in the world, the Louvre said.
The pre-Renaissance painting is one of the oldest works in the world-renowned museum's collection. It will be highlighted in a planned exhibition together with another of Cimabue's works Maestà scheduled for 2025.
Only about a dozen works of Cimabuem who did not sign his paintings, survived to the present day, according to The Guardian.
The painting was found only a few years ago, when in preparation for moving to a new house, an elderly woman was throwing away some of the things she had collected over the years. One of the items she had decided to throw away was an old 10-inch by 8-inch painting hanging above the kitchen stove that she thought was a Greek religious icon, CNN reported.
Her family decided to call in an appraiser to see if any of the items were worth anything before it was carted off to the trash heap. The small wood panel painting drew the attention of the appraiser due to the depiction of Christ, who sent it to a Paris art specialist to confirm its value, according to The Guardian.
At first, the Louvre wanted to purchase the painting. But when the auction gavel sounded in 2019, it sold to an art dealer in London for €24.2 million ($26.8 million), more than four times its original estimate, according to Smithsonian Magazine.
But soon after the auction, the French government stepped in and declared Christ Mocked a "national treasure," and gave the Louvre 30 months to raise the money to purchase the painting.
Earlier this month, France's minister of culture, Rima Abdul Malak, and the president and director of the Louvre, Laurence des Car announced their success in raising the funds to acquire the painting.
"The Derision of the Christ of Cimabue is a crucial milestone in art history, marking the fascinating transition from icon to painting," France's culture ministry said in a statement.
Unfortunately, the elderly woman who owned the painting passed away just two days after the auction, but her three heirs will inherit her estate, according to Smithsonian Magazine.
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