Masterpiece found in French woman’s kitchen sells for $26.6m

Art expert Stephane Pinta points to a 13th century painting by Italian master Cimabue in Paris, Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019. A rare 13th century painting by Italian master Cimabue has been found in a French kitchen, and is now expected to fetch millions of euros at an upcoming auction. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
The painting, by Italian master Cimabue, was expected to sell for $4.4 million to $6.6 million.

PARIS — A masterpiece attributed to the 13th-century Italian painter Cimabue that was discovered earlier this year in an elderly French woman’s kitchen sold for $26.6 million on Sunday.

Dominique Le Coent of Acteon Auction House, who sold the work 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.


The expected sale price was $4.4 million to $6.6 million.

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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.

An auctioneer spotted the painting while inspecting the 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 and its owner had considered it an icon of little importance.

Titled ‘‘Christ Mocked,’’ the painting measures about 10 inches by 8 inches.


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.