Botticelli portrait of Jesus Christ sells for $45.4 million


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A Sandro Botticelli portrait of Jesus Christ with bloodshot eyes and a halo of tiny, weeping angels bought for $45.4 million on Thursday within the newest signal of the artwork market’s resilience.

Sotheby’s in New York anticipated “The Man of Sorrows,” from round 1500, to promote for $40 million. Two cellphone bidders wound up competing for the work, with the auctioneer hammering the gavel at $39.3 million for a remaining sale value of $45.4 million together with Sotheby’s fee.

Man of Sorrows

A view of Sandro Botticelli’s ‘The Man of Sorrows’ as Sotheby’s January 2022 Masters Week Auctions Sandro Botticelli Masterpiece at Sotheby’s on January 21, 2022 in New York Metropolis.  (Photograph by Theo Wargo/Getty Pictures / Getty Pictures)

The sale kicked off the artwork world’s spring season, persevering with a scorching streak that began final yr because the world’s chief public sale homes bounced again from the worldwide pandemic with assist from an inflow of collectors looking forward to artwork trophies by family names.


Botticelli was a Excessive Renaissance man from Florence who lived from 1445 to 1510 below the luxurious patronage of the Medici household, in addition to the ascetic preaching of Dominican friar Girolamo Savonarola. His oeuvre displays this aesthetic pendulum. Botticelli, a nickname which means “little barrel,” is finest identified for earlier, mythological scenes of goddesses in billowy robes or perched nude atop seashells, as in “The Start of Venus” and “Primavera,” each on the Uffizi Gallery.

His 1480 portrait of a “Younger Man Holding a Roundel” caught consideration extra not too long ago when Sotheby’s bought it for $92.2 million a yr in the past.

Young Man Holding a Roundel Botticelli

A Sotheby’s worker carrying a face masks poses for {a photograph} with the paintings “Younger Man Holding a Roundel” by Italian Renaissance painter Sandro Botticelli, throughout a photocall at Sotheby’s auctioneers in London on December 2, 2020.  (Photograph by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP by way of Getty Pictures / Getty Pictures)

“The Man of Sorrows” reminds artwork lovers that the identical artist later fell below the affect of Savonarola, whose rise and four-year dictatorship in Florence within the late 1400s solid a protracted shadow on the famous person artists working there on the time, together with Botticelli and youthful artists Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci.

Sotheby’s went to nice lengths to check Botticelli’s struggling Christ to the rediscovered portray of Christ by Leonardo, “Salvator Mundi.” Christie’s bought that portray to Saudi Arabia’s crown prince for $450.3 million in 2017, and it later hung in a royal yacht. Each painters possible labored on these portraits inside months of one another, consultants say. Each depict Christ as regal, although Leonardo exhibits his determine holding up a hand in an indication of blessing, whereas Botticelli exhibits his Christ in ache, certain by ropes and with fingers already scarred by crucifixion.


“The ‘Salvator Mundi’ exhibits God as an icon, however Botticelli exhibits God in his humanity,” mentioned Sotheby’s skilled Christopher Apostle. “Botticelli’s model is much less inflexible, however it hits you within the face.”

Salvator Mundi Leonardo da Vinci

A member of employees poses with a portray by Leonardo da Vinci entitled ‘Salvator Mundi’ earlier than it’s auctioned in New York on November 15, at Christies on October 24, 2017 in London, England. The portray is the final Da Vinci in non-public fingers. (Photograph (Photograph by Carl Court docket/Getty Pictures / Getty Pictures)

Botticelli’s Christ didn’t outsell Leonardo’s for advanced causes that possible have one thing to do with rarity—there are nonetheless 4 or 5 different Botticelli works in non-public fingers, whereas surviving Leonardo works are extra scarce—and with differing possession histories. Whereas “Salvator Mundi” was rediscovered after many years in obscurity and its authenticity hotly debated, Botticelli’s “Man” has been hidden away by the nameless household that purchased it for $28,000 in 1963, little-seen however its origins not too long ago unquestioned.

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Mr. Apostle, who studied the work forward of the sale, mentioned Sotheby’s did uncover one thing new about its Botticelli. Infrared exams reveal the artist initially began portray Christ as an toddler, being hugged by his mom. However sooner or later, Botticelli turned the canvas the wrong way up and began over, with this older Christ in thoughts.

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