Small Titian masterpiece found at London bus station sells for more than $22 million

Small Titian masterpiece found at London bus station sells for more than  million


London
CNN

Painting stolen twice by Italian artist Renaissance Perfects TitianA solid gold artifact found in a plastic bag at a London bus station sold for $22.3 million at auction on Tuesday.

The painting “The Rest of the Flight into Egypt” was sold at auction at Christie’s in London with an estimate of £15-25 million ($19-32 million), eventually selling for £17.5 million ($22.3 million) – the highest price ever achieved at auction for a work by the artist, according to a statement on Christie’s website.

The painting depicts Jesus, Mary, and Joseph resting on their way to Egypt after learning that Herod, King of Judea, wants to kill the young Christ.

Titian, whose real name was Tiziano Vecellio, completed this work in the first decade of the 16th century, at the beginning of his career.

Measuring 18.25 inches x 24.75 inches (46.2 cm x 62.9 cm), this painting is small compared to some of the larger works for which Titian was famous later in his life.

Oil on canvas has a fascinating history.

After passing through various European aristocrats, the painting was looted by Napoleonic troops during the French occupation of Vienna in 1809 and taken to Paris.

It was returned to Vienna in 1815 and again passed through private collections before ending up in the hands of John Alexander Thynne, 4th Marquess of Bath, in Wiltshire, England.

In 1995, the painting was stolen from Longleat, the home of Thane’s descendants, and disappeared for seven years, before being found by art detective Charles Hill at a London bus station.

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The auction result is “a tribute to the impeccable provenance and serene beauty of this sublime early masterpiece by Titian, one of the most poetic products of the artist’s youth,” Orlando Roque, head of Christie’s UK, said in the statement.

“This image has captured the public imagination for more than half a millennium, and there is no doubt it will continue to do so,” he added.

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