Tiny clue makes painting worth 1000 times more
best a painting produced by his son. But an Italian art historian noticed, at the bottom of the painting, the faint outline of a golden cross, and began to suspect that it was not only a genuine Mantegna but part of a larger painting.
Giovanni Valagussa, the museum’s curator, discovered that the barely visible cross at the base of the painting matched a staff held by a figure in an acknowledged Mantegna work, Descent into Limbo, completed in 1493. That work sold to a private buyer at Sotheby’s in New York in 2003 for more than US$28 million.
Further backing up his hunch, Valagussa noticed that a rocky arch in the Resurrection painting matched stonework and the interior of a cave in the Limbo painting.
He realised that the two had once been part of a single work that had been cut in two, as sometimes happened to paintings during the Renaissance era.
‘‘This has been a compelling story of attribution, which retraced all the hypotheses and work of past centuries,’’ said Valagussa.
‘‘It restores to the world of culture a great masterpiece. It is the most important discovery relating to Mantegna in 30 years.’
– Telegraph Group