After experiencing a bidding war for the painting in 2019, the Louvre finalized a four-year effort to acquire the 13th-century painting. Christ mocked. A government export ban helped make the acquisition possible. Cimabue’s work was going in the trash when the family of the owner, a French woman in her nineties, decided to take an expert look at the painting hanging above the stove in her kitchen. When Christ mocked reached the auction, the winning bid of $24 million was out of the museum’s league, the Guardian reports. The country’s Ministry of Culture then declared the work a national treasure and temporarily banned its export. The Louvre had 30 months to find the money, and it did.
The Culture Ministry did not specify how it increased the purchase price, according to CNN. The painting measures approximately 10 inches by 7.75 inches and is believed by experts to be one of eight panels from a large diptych by the Florentine artist, whose name was Cenni di Pepo, five of which remain missing. There are only around fifteen known works by Cimabue. The ministry called Christ mocked “a crucial step in the history of art, marking the fascinating transition from icon to painting.” The Louvre already has a much larger Cimabue, Maestà. Both are expected to debut in a museum exhibition in spring 2025. (Learn more at Stories from the Louvre.)
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