France’s culture ministry has announced that “Christ Mocked” a painting by the 13th century artist Cimabue, is to be kept in the country as a national treasure.
The small painting – 25.8 cm × 20.3 cm × 1.2 cm in size – was made around the year 1280 and is believed to be part of a diptych, with other parts held at museums in London and New York City. Until this year the painting was hanging in the kitchen of an elderly woman living in Compiègne in northern France. However, an auctioneer who came value the house’s contents realized that this might be a medieval work, and after testing it was determined to be a work of Cimabue, also known as Cenni di Pepo, an Italian painter who is considered one of the great artists of the pre-Renaissance period.
“Christ Mocked” was sold at auction for €24 million – a record for pre-1500 artwork. The buyer has remained anonymous, although it has have been reported to be two Chilean nationals living in the United States. However, the French government has now announced that the work cannot leave France for at least 30 months, to give enough time for the Louvre to raise funds to purchase this work. The Paris-based museum already has another work called Maesta.
Franck Riester, France’s Minister of Culture, made the announcement. In a statement he said:
I salute the eminent role played by the system of control over the export of cultural goods for the protection and enrichment of the national heritage and I thank the members of the Advisory Commission on National Treasures, under the leadership of its president, Edmond Honorat, whose careful consideration of proposals for refusal of certificates informs my decisions. Thanks to the time given by this measure, every effort can be made to ensure that this exceptional work enriches the national collections.