The Varon de los Dolores, one of Sandro Botticelli’s masterpieces, goes up for auction.
It is a portrait of Christ, with the crown of thorns and stigmata in his hands that the Italian Renaissance painter painted in the late 15th or early 16th century. Estimated at more than 40 million dollars, the previous Boticelli exceeded 92 million dollars at auction.
Edoardo Roberti, Head of the Department of Old Master Paintings at Sotheby’s, says the work reflects the wave of religious fervor that swept through the artist’s hometown at the time.
“Florence has been taken over in a civic revolution, but also a religious one, by the Dominican friar Savonarola and his followers,” he explains.
“Botticelli is involved in these changes and we find a very profound change in his artistic mood. So here we see a very human representation of the Redeemer, of the Divine, as Botticelli envisioned it later in his life.”
Botticelli’s most famous works, such as The Birth of Venus, are beautiful and sumptuous, full of colorful details that delight the viewer.
But as the artist grew older and embraced religion, his style was noticeably different.
“At this later point in Botticelli’s career, we find the artist being much more direct. We put aside the courtly beauties of an earlier period, such as the 1480s, and we have a shortcut, a much more stark rendering of what we are seeing. So here is the artist and we, the viewer, confronting and trying to relate to the artist’s vision of God, “says Roberti.
Earlier this year, Sotheby’s sold another Botticelli, “Young Man with a Roll,” for a staggering $ 92.2 million, an auction record for the artist.
The Man of Sorrows “has an estimate of over $ 40 million.
It was last sold at auction in 1963 for £ 10,000 and has remained in the same private collection ever since.
“It is very rare for Botticelli works to go on the market, especially if they are of this quality. And this particular work has not been seen on the market since the early 1960s,” says Roberti.
“He did participate in a historical exhibition in 2009 on Botticelli, but it is a painting little known by the public. So, finally, we have the opportunity to get closer to him and his power.”
The painting was previously thought to have been created by artists in Botticelli’s workshop.
But since then it has been considered to be the work of the Florentine master himself.
Sotheby’s is confident of the accuracy of that attribution.
“As with so many old masters, there is very little documentary evidence for each painting. And even if a painting is signed, that can lead to some question marks,” explains Roberti.
“What one tries to do with a painting of this quality and an artist of this importance is to obtain a broad consensus of the main scholars of the moment, to present it to the market presenting all the opinions of the pertinent scholars. We have had very strong support from everyone involved about the beauty and importance of this Botticelli handwritten work. “
‘The Man of Sorrows’ will be auctioned by Sotheby’s in New York in January 2022.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.