An early Renaissance masterpiece by the great Florentine painter Cimabue has been discovered in a kitchen in a town near Paris, art experts have said.
Christ Mocked, by the 13th-century artist who taught Giotto, is estimated to be worth between €4m and €6m (£3.5m to £5.3m), according to the old masters specialists Turquin.
They said the work was owned by a woman in the northern French town of Compiègne, who had it hanging between her kitchen and her sitting room. It was directly above a hotplate for cooking food.
The painting is thought to be part of a large diptych dating from 1280 when Cimabue, also known as Cenni di Pepo, painted eight scenes depicting Christ’s passion and crucifixion.
Two other scenes from the work hang in the National Gallery in London – The Virgin and Child with Two Angels – and the Frick Collection in New York (The Flagellation of Christ).
The scene in the National Gallery was also lost for centuries, and found only when a British aristocrat was clearing his ancestral seat in Suffolk. It was given to the nation in 2000.
The French painting’s owner thought it was just a rather old religious icon when she took it to her local auctioneers to be valued.
Early Renaissance art was hugely influenced by Byzantine art, which is still produced in a similar style today on a background of gold paint. However, tests using infrared light found that there was “no disputing that the painting was done by the same hand” as other known works by Cimabue, said art expert Eric Turquin.
It will go under the hammer at the Acteon auction house in Senlis, north of Paris, on 27 October.