Stolen 16th-century painting found at London bus stop, sells for record $22M

Friday, July 05, 2024 - A painting once looted by Napolean’s troops and a part of royal collections for centuries has been sold for a whopping $22m.

The artwork by legendary artist Titian was stolen from the home of a British marquess in 1995 but seven years later it was found inside a white and blue plastic bag at a bus stop in southwest London by an art detective.

This week, the oil painting “The Rest on the Flight into Egypt” sold for more than $22 million at auction house, Christie’s.

It was a record for the Renaissance artist, whom museums describe as the greatest painter of 16th-century Venice.

Ahead of the sale, the auction house billed it as “the most important work by Titian to come to the auction market in more than a generation.”

“This result is a tribute to the impeccable provenance and quiet beauty of this sublime early masterpiece by Titian, which is one of the most poetic products of the artist’s youth,” Orlando Rock, chairman of Christie’s U.K., said in a statement.

The artwork was inspired by a biblical event when Joseph took Mary and a young Jesus to Egypt after a dream warned him that King Herod was seeking to kill his son, Christie’s said. The painting depicts Mary cradling Jesus as Joseph looks on in a rural setting.

Titian is known for his use of the “colorito” technique, where colour is employed dominantly for sensual expressive purposes and as an element of the composition. He gained international fame for his religious paintings, incisive portraits and poetic renditions of mythological subjects, the Metropolitan Museum of Art says.

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