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Hidden Gem Above French Kitchen Hot Plate Finds New Home at the Louvre



Quick Smiles:

  • A 13th-century masterpiece by Cimabue was discovered hanging above a French woman’s hot plate.
  • The painting, Christ Mocked, sold for over $25 million at auction in 2019.
  • It will join the Louvre’s collection and be displayed alongside another Cimabue masterpiece in 2025.

A few years ago, the art world buzzed with excitement when a painting by 13th-century master Cimabue was discovered in the home of a 90-year-old French woman. The painting, Christ Mocked, also known as The Derision of Christ, was found hanging above her hot plate. It was identified when one of the woman’s children brought in an appraiser while preparing to help her move. The woman had planned to toss the 10 x 8 painting, thinking it was just a simple Greek icon.

In 2019, the painting went up for auction and sold for a staggering $25 million, four times its predicted amount. Fabrizio Moretti, the buyer representing two collectors, was in awe of the piece. “It’s one of the most important old master discoveries in the last 15 years,” he told the New York Times. “Cimabue is the beginning of everything. He started modern art. When I held the picture in my hands, I almost cried.”

Cimabue, believed to be the pseudonym of Fiorentino painter Cenni di Pepo, was born in 1240 and may have been the teacher of the renowned Italian master, Giotto. The French Ministry of Culture, in collaboration with the Louvre, managed to acquire the painting for their collection. They stated, “Cimabue lays the foundations for a new way of painting and addresses questions that will be central to the Renaissance: the illusionist representation of space, the body, light, and human feelings.”

Christ Mocked is part of a diptych that included eight different altar paintings, with only two known today. Cimabue’s works are rare, with only fifteen known pieces, mostly frescoes. The painting will join the monumental Maestà, another Cimabue masterpiece, currently undergoing restoration for an exhibition event in spring 2025 at the Louvre.