A marble statue that sat in a garden for decades was identified as a long-lost work of an Italian master.
The 1822 sculpture by Antonio Canova depicts Mary Magdalene in “a state of ecstasy.”
It is expected to sell for between $6.5 million to $10.5 million, said the auction house Christie’s.
A marble statue that sat in a British garden for decades has been identified as a long-lost work of Italian sculptor Antonio Canova.
It will now be sold at auction house Christie’s in London and is expected to sell for between $6.5 million to $10.5 million (£5 million to £8 million).
The statue, which Christie’s says depicts Mary Magdalene in “a state of ecstasy,” was bought by its current owners for $7,540 (£5,200) at a garden statuary auction in Sussex, England, 20 years ago.
The unnamed British couple is believed to have used the statue to decorate their garden, The Guardian reported.
Last year, it was identified as one of the last marble sculptures completed by Canova before his death in 1822, which had been commissioned by then British Prime Minister Lord Liverpool.
“It is a miracle that Antonio Canova’s exceptional, long-lost masterpiece has been found, 200 years after its completion,” Dr. Mario Guderzo, a leading Canova scholar, said in a Christie’s press release.
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“Scholars have searched for this work for decades, so the discovery is of fundamental importance for the history of collecting and the history of art.”
In a letter to a friend in 1819, Canova described the sculpture depicting “Magdalene lying on the ground, almost fainting from her penitence’s excessive pain.”
Following the death of Lord Liverpool, the sculpture changed hands between several owners, and at some point, the attribution to Canova was lost.
“The re-discovery of the ‘Recumbent Magdalene’ brings to a conclusion a very particular story worthy of a novel, of a marble of significant historical value and great aesthetic beauty produced by Canova in the final years of his artistic activity,” Guderzo said.
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