I Love These Stories + October 28 Update

You know that Capitol One slogan, “What’s in your wallet?”

I’m changing that to “What’s in your kitchen?”

For one French woman, it was a small, dusty old painting that had hung on the kitchen wall above her hotplate for years.

Now art experts believe it’s this long-lost 13th century masterpiece by Italian artist Cenni di Pepo, also known as Cimabue:

christ mocked

The experts also believe that when the painting goes to auction in October, it could sell for $6 million.

The woman, so far, is identified only as a resident of Compiègne, near Paris.

Though I’m betting she suddenly has more new relatives, best friends and acquaintances than you can shake a baguette at.

She’d had the painting for many years, and thought it was an old Greek religious icon.

She was right about the “old” – it was created in 1280.  It’s 8” x 11”, painted on a wood panel, and called Christ Mocked.

Experts say it’s part of a larger Cimabue work – an eight-panel polyptych that would have been joined by hinges or folds, similar to this one:

van eyck polyptych
Jan van Eyck’s 15th-century “Ghent Altarpiece.”

Here are two other paintings believed to be part of the Cimabue polyptych:

“Christ Mocked” is displayed in Paris in September 2019, alongside copies of two other Cimabue paintings thought to be part of the same polyptych.  On the left is “The Virgin and Child with Two Angels,” which belongs to the National Gallery, and on the right is “The Flagellation of Christ,” which is part of the Frick Collection in New York.

Experts appear satisfied with their verification research, which ranged from highly scientific examinations with infrared light to the less scientific (but equally important) eyeballing of tracks in the panel made by wood-eating worms.

There’s “no disputing” its origin, they said, and, “We have objective proof” it’s by Cimabue.

I’m betting Madame No-Name said “Vends le!” (“Sell it!”) faster than you can say, “Pas de merde!” (“No shit!”).

I love these stories.

And this happens more often than you think.  Here are three other recent discoveries:

Found in a closet, 2016:

apollo before apollo after.jpg
Top:  Apollo and Venus before and after restoration; the painting, by Dutch master Otto van Veen (1556-1629) was discovered in the closet of an art gallery in Iowa (below), and estimated at $4 million to $11 million.
Attic Apollo (2)

Found in an attic, 2016:

carvaggio_01 cropped larger attic carvaggio found Toulouse France
A painting believed to be by Caravaggio (1571-1610), depicting Jewish heroine Judith decapitating Assyrian general Holofernes, was found in this attic in France.  It was estimated at $115 million to $170 million.

Found in a garage, 2017:

pollock smaller pollock garage cropped
A Jackson Pollock (1912-1956) painting found in this Arizona garage was expected to sell for up to $15 million at auction.

Of the Cimabue’s original eight panels, a curator at the Frick Collection in New York pointed out, “There are still five pieces out there waiting to be found.”

So, forget what’s in your wallet.

What’s in your closet?

Your attic?

Your garage?

Attic Flashlight (2)

10/28/19 Update:

Yesterday, October 27, the Cimabue painting sold for 24 million euros ($26.6 million):

Cimabue Auction Update (2)

Acteon Auction House sold the masterpiece to an anonymous buyer near Chantilly, north of Paris.

The expected sale price had been 4 million to 6 million euros ($4.4 million to $6.6 million).

What’s in your kitchen?

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