Hidden Baby Christ Discovered In Rare Botticelli Painting Set To Sell For $40M
By Mikelle Leow, 12 Jan 2022
The new buyer of this precious Sandro Botticelli masterpiece, rarely seen by the public, might be getting more than their money’s worth—if its estimated price of at least US$40 million should be considered a bargain. Having remained in private collections since the 19th century, the Man of Sorrows painting hasn’t been analyzed as considerably as other pieces of art, but fresh scans reveal that it is two artworks for the price of one.
Ahead of its sale by way of Sotheby’s on January 27, researchers of the auction house captured infrared images of the painting and found an upside-down underdrawing of a Madonna and a baby Christ. It appears that Botticelli abandoned this composition and flipped the canvas to start anew, this time portraying the Messiah with a worldly wisdom of suffering and death.
“The painting spotlights Botticelli’s intense spirituality that greatly influenced his later period work and life, and presents a unique insight into Botticelli the man and Botticelli the artist,” described Christopher Apostle, Sotheby’s Head of Old Master Paintings in New York, last October.
New scans shed light on a tenderer, more naïve part of the circle of life, picturing Baby Christ’s head—evidenced by the childlike nose, eyes, and laughing mouth—to be lovingly resting on the cheek of the Madonna.
In a statement via The Art Newspaper, Apostle says he is especially moved by the way Botticelli positioned the infant Jesus to be “a little bit off-center,” which humanizes the subject a little more. “[The composition] has a profound emotional charge,” says Apostle. “If he had represented Christ full-on and rigid this would be more like an icon; a little bit more impenetrable.”
Botticelli painted Man of Sorrows when he was around the age of 55, which would have been a late-middle age in the Renaissance.
“I feel that there is something about this picture that Botticelli is projecting, an understanding that we are all going to die,” Apostle shares.
More related news