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Monday, October 28, 2019, 18:21
Masterpiece in French woman's kitchen sells for US$26.6m
By Associated Press
Monday, October 28, 2019, 18:21 By Associated Press

In this Sept 24, 2019 file photo, art expert Stephane Pinta holds a 13th-century painting by Italian master Cimabue in Paris, Sept 24, 2019. (PHOTO / AP)

PARIS – An old painting found in the kitchen of an elderly French woman, who considered it an icon of little importance, has made her a multimillionaire.

The work, a masterpiece attributed to the 13th-century Italian painter Cimabue that was discovered earlier this year, sold for €24 million (US$26.6 million) on Sunday.

"There's never been a Cimabue painting on sale so there was no reference previously on how much it could make."

Dominique Le Coent, staff of Acteon Auction House

Dominique Le Coent of Acteon Auction House, who sold the masterpiece to an anonymous buyer near Chantilly, north of Paris, said the sale represented a "world record for a primitive, or a pre-1500 work."

"It's a painting that was unique, splendid and monumental. Cimabue was the father of the Renaissance. But this sale goes beyond all our dreams," Le Coent told The Associated Press.

An auctioneer spotted the painting in June while inspecting a woman's house in Compiegne in northern France and suggested she bring it to experts for an evaluation. It hung on a wall between the kitchen and dining room.

The woman will now receive "the majority" of the sale money, the auction house said.

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

Le Coent said experts were off the mark because it was the first time a Cimabue had ever gone under the hammer. "There's never been a Cimabue painting on sale so there was no reference previously on how much it could make," he explained.

In this Sept 24, 2019 file photo, art expert Stephane Pinta takes a painting by Italian master Cimabue out of a glass case in Paris. (PHOTO / AP)

Titled "Christ Mocked," the painting measures about 24 by 20 centimeters.

Art experts say it is likely part of a larger diptych that Cimabue painted around 1280, of which two other panels are displayed at the Frick Collection in New York and the National Gallery in London.

The painting's discovery has sent ripples of excitement through the art world.

Cimabue, who taught Italian master Giotto, is widely considered the forefather of the Italian Renaissance. He broke from the Byzantine style popular in the Middle Ages and began to incorporate elements of movement and perspective that came to characterize Western painting.

Specialists at the Turquin gallery in Paris initially examined the painting and concluded with "certitude" that it bore the hallmarks of Cimabue.

Stephane Pinta, an art specialist with the Turquin, pointed to likenesses in facial expressions and buildings, as well as the painter's techniques for conveying light and distance.

READ MORE: Louvre exhibit acclaims Da Vinci, 500 years after his death

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