Rediscovered Canova Could Fetch $10.5 M. at Christie’s in July

A rediscovered 19th-century marble sculpture depicting Mary Magdalene in repose reattributed last year to Italian master Antonio Canova will be sold at auction this summer. Maddalena Giacente (Recumbent Magdalene) is heading to the block at Christie’s where it will be offered during an antiquities sale in London this July. There, it is expected to fetch a price between £5 million–£8 million ($6.5 million to $10.5 million). The auction is poised to set a new record for the Italian sculptor, whose current milestone price is $5.1 million, set during a Christie’s Paris sale in 2017.

The anonymous sellers are based in the U.K. They purchased the work at a Sussex auction more than two decades ago for £5,200 ($7,540) in 2002. At the time of the sale, they planned to house it in a residential garden, according to Christie’s. Further research on the piece revealed it was originally commissioned by the British noble Robert Jenkinson during his tenure as the country’s prime minister in the early 19th century. Scholars believe Canova created the piece between 1819 and 1822.

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The piece passed through the hands of multiple owners after Jenkinson, eventually losing any recorded links to Canova. It sold at Christie’s in 1852 when it was consigned by a Jenkinson family member who inherited it. From the 1920s up until the late 1950s, it was transferred consecutively between four private buyers, all of whom were based in England.

The sculpture will go on view at Christie’s London this weekend, before traveling to the auction house’s exhibition spaces in New York and Hong Kong between April and May, ahead of its sale on July 7.


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