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Tags: botticelli | painting | composition

Hidden Composition Found in Botticelli Painting

Hidden Composition Found in Botticelli Painting
Sandro Botticelli's "Man of Sorrows" at Sotheby's on Dec. 1, 2021, in London, England. (Tristan Fewings/Getty Images for Sotheby's)

By    |   Wednesday, 12 January 2022 01:06 PM

A hidden composition was discovered beneath the layers of paint of a Sandro Botticelli painting.

The "Man of Sorrows" painting is set to go on auction at Sotheby's on Jan. 27 and the discovery was made during technical analysis undertaken by the auction house in preparation for the sale at which the painting has a guarantee of $40 million, according to The Art Newspaper.

Chris Apostle, the senior vice president and director of Old Master paintings at Sotheby's in New York, believes that the abandoned composition is an image of a Madonna and a child. As The Art Newspaper noted, Madonna "intimately cradles the head of the baby Christ against her own, cheek to cheek." The facial features can reportedly be seen in infrared images.  

The lines in the underdrawing vary in thickness, suggesting that they may have been traced from a standard cartoon then gone over in a liquid pigment, the outlet noted. However, Apostle suggests that the head of the Christ Child was a "one off" as no replica exists in autograph Botticelli or studio works.

Sotheby's further notes that the reverse of the panel "bears what appears to be an old and as yet unidentified inventory number (355) painted in red in the upper left." There is also a wax seal near the center of the supper edge "that may point to provenance of the painting in Rome, possibly where the earliest recorded owners, the Sartorises, acquired it, as they resided in the Eternal City for many years."

Finding an abandoned composition may be somewhat unusual, but it is not a rare occurrence. Apostle explained that he had seen something similar in the past. 

"Panel was a valuable commodity in the Renaissance," he said. With this in mind, if an artist had painted something then decided to abort it, "then one wouldn’t want to throw it away." In this instance, it seems as if Botticelli simply flipped the panel the other way and decided to use it for another composition — one that went on to become a defining piece on the artist's late career.

It is believed to be dated around 1500 or perhaps as late as 1510, which was very close to Botticelli’s death, according to Sotheby's. 

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TheWire
A hidden composition was discovered beneath the layers of paint of a Sandro Botticelli painting. The "Man of Sorrows" painting is set to go on auction at Sotheby's on Jan. 27 and the discovery...
botticelli, painting, composition
372
2022-06-12
Wednesday, 12 January 2022 01:06 PM
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