This ain’t your mama’s Messiah.
An eagle-eyed art trader in Austria bought a painting of Jesus Christ — and discovered a secret portrait of Jesus hidden underneath that was covered up during conservative Victorian times.
“His self-assured upright pose, the presentation of His wounds a demonstration of His triumph over death and the heavenly light above Him marks Christ as the Redeemer of the World,” writes Sotheby’s auction house in an online description of the original.
The 16th-century work was purchased by Dorothea Apovnik, of Vienna — and the true portrait was revealed following a painstaking restoration of the darker painting.
The portrait was auctioned off Wednesday night in New York for $399,000.
Flemish master Jan Sanders van Hemessen is believed to be the artist.
“The powerful rendition of the painted figure, its monumentality and idiosyncratic color scheme, along with the technical prowess of Christ’s portrayal all point to Hemessen’s work from the mid- 1540’s,” Sotheby’s says. “Thus making this a mature and significant picture of the High Renaissance of Flemish painting.”
David Pollack, VP of Old Master Paintings at Sotheby’s, believes it was painted over in the 19th century.
“Its dynamic flamboyant pose, its naked form, its bright, incredible color are all things that would have been seen as inappropriate during a more modest Victorian time,” Pollack said in a video posted on the auction house’s site.
The site adds, “Hemessen’s powerful figures were often times, as here, combined with exaggerated poses, a practice taken from the great Mannerist painters in Italy and Fontainebleau, such as Giulio Romano, Primaticcio and especially, Rosso Fiorentino. Christ is not portrayed here as the Man of Sorrows.”
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