A museum in Italy discovered a $30 million Mantegna painting in its own collection.
Giovanni Valagussa, a curator at the Accademia Carrara in Bergamo, was preparing a catalogue of art made prior to 1500, when he became entranced with one work in particular. The painting, The Resurrection of Christ (1492-93), was originally bought by a benefactor of the Accademia in 1846, under the assumption that is was painted by Renaissance master Andrea Mantegna. But years later, experts concluded that the painting was not an authentic Mantegna and insured the work at a value of between $24,000 and $35,000.
But Valagussa’s recent research provided sufficient evidence for re-attributing the work to Mantegna, reported the Wall Street Journal. Two of the main clues—a wooden bar on the back of the board and the compositional placement of two crosses—suggested that it was one piece of a larger work. The other half of the painting has since been identified as Descent Into Limbo (1492-93), which sold at Sotheby’s in 2003 for 28.5 million. Keith Christiansen of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a Mantegna scholar, has backed Valagussa’s finding and the new attribution will be announced on Wednesday. While the museum hopes to display the two works together in an exhibition next year, the likelihood of that reunion is low for now. After contacting the owner of Descent Into Limbo through Sotheby’s, the collector told Valagussa that they are, “not someone who likes to be disturbed,” reported the Journal.