Patterns of worm holes in the poplar panel suggest this painting is the missing part of a polyptych by the Florentine artist Courtesy of Actéon and Eric Turquin

His is the first biography in Vasaris Lives of the Artists and he even gets a mention in Dantes Divine Comedy: “Cimabue thought to lord it over paintings field; and now the cry is Giottos and his name eclips'd.”

The late 13th century Florentine artist Cenni di Pepo, known as Cimabue (active 1272-1302),is widely recognised as the father of Western painting, but no autograph work by him has been sold at auction for as long as anyone in the art trade can remember.

So plenty of attention will be focused on the northern French city of Senlis on 27 October when a small 10 inch high panel painting of the Mocking of Christ, thought to be by Cimabue, is scheduled to be auctioned by Actéon, estimated at €4m-€6m.

The unsigned tempera on poplar panel was discovered in June by the auctioneer Philomène Wolf during a house clearance in the nearby town Compiegne. “It was considered special by the family, but they thought it was an icon,” Wolf says. “I am so lucky. I am at the beginning of my career, and you can wait an entire lifetime before making such a discovery.”

Subsequent research by the Paris-based old master expert Eric Turquin, who will be selling the work in collaboration with Actéon,has hailed the painting as “the only small-scale work of devotion that has been recently added to the catalogue of authentic works by Cimabue.”

Turquin believes the newly discovered Mocking of Christ was part of a small polyptych by Cimabue that also included the Flagellation of Christ and the Madonna and Child Enthroned between Two Angels, respectively bought by the Frick Collection in New York in 1950 and the National Gallery in London in 2000. Cimabues exquisite Madonna had been due to be auctioned at Sothebys, but was acquired for the nation by private treaty for about £7.2m just before the sale. The pre-auction estimate had been £10m, according to Artnet.

But why is the Paris expert so sure this unsigned discovery is by Cimabue?

“You can follow the tunnels made by the worms,” Turquin says, pointing out that the polyptych had been sawn down its centre, exposing the centuries-old tracks made by timber-eating larvae. All three panels have similar patterns of worm holes. “Its the same poplar panel,” Turquin adds. “We have objective proof its by the artist.”

At the time of writing, the discovery had yet to be vieRead More – Source