Under the hammer of Dominique le Coënt, Acteon, a French consortium of auction houses in Senlis, Chantilly, Compiègne, Lille and Paris,The Mocking of Christ, a rare painting by Cimabue, has sold at auction for € 24,180,000 -$ 26,792,500.

Found hanging in a local family’s home near Compiègne by Acteon, the tiny painting (24,6X19,6cm – 9,6X7,7 inches) was authenticated by Cabinet Turquin. Initially estimated between 4 and 6 million euros, the painting becomes the most expensive pre-1500 old Master to have been sold at auction. Globally, the Senlis Cimabue is the 8th most expensive old Master to have been auction after Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi (2017), Rubens’s Massacre of the Innocents (2012), Rubens’s Lot and His Daughters (2016), Rembrandt’s Portrait of a Woman (2000), Raphaël’sPortrait of Lorenzo de Medicis (2007), and Canaletto’s Veduta del Canal Grande (2005). The beneficiary will be the old lady who sold the house and asked Acteon to clear it. They had a week to do it.

In front of an audience of more than 500 people, 8 competitors aggressively bid for this rare painting by Cimabue, the 13th century Florentine painter renowned as one of the greatest pre- renaissance artists, whose body of work is limited to ten works, of which none is signed and all in public collections. the buyer is a private individual.

Investigations of Cabinet Turquin had determined the painting belongs to a devotional panel of two elements painted with eight scenes from the Passion of Christ. The panel, titled The Mocking of Christ, joins the two other elements known to us today: the Flagellation which has been in the Frick Collection in New York since 1950 and Virgin and Child Enthroned surrounded by two angels, which was bought by the national gallery in London in 2000.


“This is a historic sale for the Actéon group. With a remarkable price of € 24 180 000, this auction joins the ranks of the 8th most important Old Masters auctions worldwide. This record shows that today, a work of art can be sold anywhere in the world thanks especially to powerful platforms such as Interencheres.” says Dominique le Coënt, director of Actéon group.

“We received interest from all the most prominent museums worldwide. Contemporary art collectors whom we did not know also showed a keen interest, which for us as experts in Old Masters, was a completely new phenomenon.” Eric Turquin, expert who authenticated the Cimabue painting.

This exceptional discovery of The Mocking of Christ allows us to pursue the reconstitution of the unique devotional work known to us today as being by the hand of Cimabue. Traces of the original framing, the small round dots made with the same sort of stamp, the style, the gold ornamentation, the corresponding of the backs of each of the panels and their similar condition confirm that these panels made up the left side of the same diptych.


An exceedingly rare artist and one of the first examples of Western painting

The majority of works by Cimabue were done for churches in Pisa, Florence, Bologne, Arezzo. A Virgin and Child Enthroned painted circa 1280 for the church of San Francesco in Pisa is today in the louvre. devotional panels, of which our panel is one, were small in scale and easy to transport and were intended for private contemplation by religious congregations or individuals in their chapels or private oratories.

Cimabue a Florentine painter active in the second half of the 13th century, ensured the renewal of Byzantine painting by breaking with its formalism and its images that were codified by dogma. he is the artist who opened the door to a greater naturalism in art that precedes that of the renaissance; he gives a soul to each of his figures and brings depth to his composition by conceiving the first notions of perspective.

In this rediscovered panel, the multitude of faces, be they grimacing or jeering, very expressive, all serve to reinforce this idea of Christ being surrounded. Christ himself is shown as a flesh and blood human being in an attitude of surrender and not as an almost abstract divinity. Giotto and Duccio, for whom Cimabue is considered the spiritual father, will follow this stylistic evolution.

This panel is thus one of the first examples of Western art that opens the way to Humanism in paintings.

For more information about the sale please contact:

Press Inquiries:

Sylvie Robaglia, Art & Communication

sylvie@art-et-communication.fr, +33 06 72 59 57 34

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