Masterpiece Found at Bus Stop Sets Auction Record

Titian's 'Rest on the Flight to Egypt' fetches $22.1M, a new high for the artist
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 13, 2024 6:05 PM CDT
Updated Jul 4, 2024 7:28 AM CDT
Painting Once Recovered at Bus Stop May Fetch $32M
"The Rest on the Flight to Egypt," by Titian.   (Christie's auction house)
UPDATE Jul 4, 2024 7:28 AM CDT

A small Titian masterpiece once recovered from a London bus stop sold at auction Tuesday for $22.1 million, a new record for the artist dubbed "the greatest painter of 16th-century Venice." Orlando Rock, chairman of Christie's UK, said the price for Rest on the Flight to Egypt, measuring 18 by 25 inches, was "a tribute to the impeccable provenance and quiet beauty of this sublime early masterpiece," per the Washington Post. The painting, circa 1510, dates to the very start of Titian's career, per the National Gallery. The final price was well beyond the previous Titian auction record of $16.9 million for A Sacra Conversazione, circa 1560, sold by Sotheby's New York in 2011, per Art News.

Jun 13, 2024 6:05 PM CDT

It's been the target of two high-profile lootings in its long history, but a painting regarded as a masterpiece by the Venetian artist Titian will change hands more properly next month. Christie's will auction The Rest on the Flight to Egypt on July 2 in London, and it estimates the work will fetch between $19 million and $32 million, reports CNN. The artist—real name Tiziano Vecellio—painted it in the early 16th century, depicting the biblical scene of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph en route to Egypt. In Titian's image, they are resting on the way.

The Guardian notes that Napoleon's troops stole the painting in 1809 from Vienna. Modern-day art thieves nabbed it again in 1995 from Longleat House, seat of the Marquesses of Bath, in Wiltshire, England. It remained missing for seven years, at which point renowned art detective Charles Hill recovered it at a London bus stop in a plastic shopping bag. (The Guardian also has an older story on that.) "Like its subjects, The Rest on the Flight into Egypt has been on a long and eventful journey—a journey that's far from over," reads a release at Christie's. (More art auction stories.)

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