Painting within a Painting: A Madonna is Found Hiding Beneath a Rare Botticelli Ahead of Its Auction - Arts & Culture

The piece will be in Sotheby’s January 27 Master Paintings & Sculptures event.

Two weeks before it is set to star in Sotheby’s annual Masters Week sales series, a Sandro Botticelli painting is found to be hiding something under its layers.

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The renaissance painter’s “Man of Sorrows” was undergoing technical analysis ahead of its January 27 auction when it was discovered that there was an abandoned Eleusaor “Madonna of Tenderness” outlined beneath. Upside down, this outline was found under infrared scanning.

The Eleusa depicts the Virgin Mary nestling the Christ Child to her face. Artists who have created works Eleusa works include Raphael and Luigi Crosio.

Sotheby’s described the painting as “one of the last great masterpieces remaining in private hands by renowned Renaissance artist,” and is estimated in excess of $40 million. The last Botticelli that the auction house sold was “Young Man Holding a Roundel,” which fetched for $92.2 million exactly last year.

Born Alessandro di Mariano Filipepi in Florence in 1445, Botticelli has been described as one of the greatest painters of the Florentine Renaissance. Some of his most popular works include “The Birth of Venus” and “Primavera.”

“To bring to auction a work by Botticelli of this quality is a major event in the world of Old Masters–but to do so a year after the landmark sale of Botticelli’s ‘Young Man Holding a Roundel’ is a once-in-a-generation phenomenon,” says Sotheby’s chairman and co-worldwide head of Old Master Paintings Greg Wachter.

This extraordinary painting, he continues, is a prime example of what makes the artist so captivating: a “bold visual style coupled with a singularly human approach to portraiture. In taking what is a rather difficult and somber subject matter of Christ following his persecution, Botticelli creates a deeply complex and moving portrait that is truly timeless.”

According to Sotheby’s, “Man of Sorrows”has been in private hands since the nineteenth century, first recorded in the collection of opera singer Adelaide Kemble Sartoris. It then remained with her family until 1963, when it was acquired by its current owner.

Sotheby’s Master Paintings & Sculptures Part 1 will be on January 27, 2022 at 10 A.M. EST. For more information, visit

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