The Cimabue worth 24 million euros, saved from garbage, joins the Louvre

The Derision of Christ by the Florentine master (1240-1302) of the pre-Renaissance, a wooden painting found hanging in the kitchen of a nonagenarian in 2019, will be preserved by the great Parisian museum. An exhibition is scheduled for 2025.

In 2019, a small wooden painting was found in the kitchen of a nonagenarian. During the inventory of goods, the experts from the Turquin firm understand that it is a question of The Derision of Christ of Cimabue, a revered Florentine master, considered by art historians to be the major figure of the Italian pre-Renaissance. Today, some five years later, after many adventures including an auction to a private collector culminating in 24 million euros, the Louvre has just announced the acquisition of this extremely rare work, which thus becomes the oldest from the collection dedicated to the pre-renaissance. And for curators, this essential milestone will allow us to better understand the evolution of Western painting.

The entrance to The Derision of Christ– also titled Christ mocked -, makes one enthusiastic Laurence des Carsthe president and director of the Louvre: “Being able to announce the acquisition of these two exceptional works is a great joy for me. Firstly because The Derision of Christ by Cimabue, constitutes a crucial milestone in the history of art, marking the fascinating transition from icon to painting. It will soon be presented alongside the Maestà, another masterpiece by Cimabue belonging to the Louvre collections and whose restoration is currently continuing. Together, the two paintings will be the subject of an event exhibition in spring 2025.“.

Read alsoCimabue: exceptional discovery of a painting by the Florentine master in Compiègne

The story of the rediscovery of this masterpiece by Cimabue, the third missing link from one of the eight panels of a large diptych painted around 1280, is quite incredible. Found in the kitchen of a house in Compiègne, destined for scrap before expertise because it was wrongly considered of no great value, it was finally examined by Eric Turquinthe expert on the famous and alleged Caravaggio, at the time very publicized.

Finally authenticated, The Derision of Christ is initially estimated at between 4 and 6 million euros. Then the painting is acquired under the hammer in Senlis for the record sum of 24 million to a private buyer. It thus becomes “the 8th most expensive old painting sold in the world“.

Given the artistic and above all historical importance of this testimony to the beginnings of the Renaissance, the Ministry of Culture, at the end of 2019, decided to clify the work as a national treasure for thirty months. Today with its admission to the Louvre, followed by its exhibition in 2025, this conservation work has borne fruit. Visitors to the Louvre will therefore be able to admire it in a few months and understand how Cimabue opened the way for Giotto and his disciples.

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