Titian’s Early Masterpiece Expected to Fetch $25Mil

In a historic event, Titian’s early masterpiece, “Rest on the Flight into Egypt,” will take centre stage at Christie’s Old Masters Part I sale on 2 July 2024.

This marks the first time in over 145 years that this fabled artwork will grace the market, offering a unique opportunity for collectors to own a piece of art history (estimate: £15,000,000 – 25,000,000).

A Remarkable Journey Through Time

Orlando Rock, Chairman of Christie’s UK, expressed the significance of this event, stating, “This sublime early masterpiece by Titian is one of the most poetic products of Titian’s youth.”

With an impeccable provenance that includes passing through the hands of Dukes, Archdukes, and Holy Roman Emperors, the painting has endured a remarkable journey. Rock highlighted its rarity, noting that it was stolen not once but twice – first by Napoleon and later in the mid-1990s.

The journey of Titian’s masterpiece spans centuries and continents, reflecting the ever-changing landscape of European history. From its creation in the early 16th century to its upcoming auction in 2024, the painting has witnessed wars, revolutions, and the rise and fall of empires.

Its survival through such tumultuous times is a testament to both its enduring beauty and the enduring power of art to transcend the ages.

A Testament to Titian’s Genius

Andrew Fletcher, Christie’s Global Head of the Old Masters Department, emphasised the importance of this work, stating, “This is the most important work by Titian to come to the auction market in more than a generation.” He described it as a masterpiece that embodies Titian’s revolutionary approach to painting in the 16th century. Fletcher praised Titian’s pioneering use of colour and representation of the human form, cementing his status as one of the greatest painters in Western art history.

Titian’s Early Masterpiece to Headline Christie’s Old Masters Auction

Titian’s genius shines through in every brushstroke of “Rest on the Flight into Egypt.” His masterful manipulation of light and shadow creates a sense of depth and dimensionality rarely seen in works of his time.

The figures in the painting exude a sense of grace and serenity, capturing a fleeting moment of tranquillity amidst the chaos of the world. It is this timeless quality that continues to captivate viewers centuries after the painting’s creation.

The Illustrious Provenance

The painting’s illustrious provenance traces back to the collection of the Venetian merchant, Bartolomeo Della Nave, in the early 17th century.

Della Nave’s collection boasted an array of works by Titian, indicating the esteemed status of the artist during his time. The painting’s value in della Nave’s inventory surpassed even that of Titian’s later masterpieces, reflecting the high regard for his early works.

The roll call of illustrious provenance continues as the painting passes through the hands of nobility and aristocracy across Europe. From the Duke of Hamilton to the Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria, each owner added to the painting’s rich history and cultural significance. Its presence in some of the greatest collections in Europe speaks to its enduring appeal and importance within the canon of Western art.

Journey Across Continents

Through various acquisitions, including by Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria, the painting found its way into the Imperial collection. It was later looted during the Napoleonic Wars and eventually came into the possession of Hugh Andrew Johnstone Munro of Novar, a prominent Scottish collector. The painting’s journey reflects the turbulent history of Europe and the enduring allure of Titian’s work across generations.

From the palaces of Vienna to the estates of Scotland, Titian’s masterpiece has traversed continents and cultures, leaving an indelible mark wherever it goes. Its presence in diverse settings underscores its universal appeal and timeless relevance.

Whether hanging in the halls of royalty or gracing the walls of private collectors, the painting continues to inspire awe and admiration wherever it is displayed.

A Stolen Legacy Recovered

In 1878, the painting was acquired by the 4th Marquess of Bath and remained in the collection at Longleat House for over a century. However, its peaceful existence was disrupted in 1995 when it was stolen.

Seven years later, following a £100,000 reward being announced for information leading to the picture’s safe return, it was found in 2002 in a carrier bag in Greater London, minus the frame, by a leading art detective of the time – the late Charles Hill, a former Scotland Yard officer.

The theft and subsequent recovery of Titian’s masterpiece added another chapter to its storied history. The incident captured the public’s imagination and underscored the enduring allure of stolen art.

Charles Hill’s role in its recovery elevated him to legendary status in the world of art crime, cementing his legacy alongside that of Titian himself. The painting’s return to Longleat House was celebrated as a triumph of justice and a testament to the enduring value of cultural heritage.

A Masterpiece Rediscovered

Despite being centuries old, Titian’s masterpiece continues to captivate audiences with its timeless beauty. While its precise dating may vary, experts agree on its significance within Titian’s oeuvre.

Antonio Mazzotta, in his analysis, draws parallels between the painting and other works from the same period, highlighting Titian’s evolving style and mastery of colour.

Titian’s “Rest on the Flight into Egypt” remains as vibrant and compelling today as it was over five centuries ago. Its rich symbolism and masterful execution speak to the universal themes of love, faith, and redemption that resonate across time and culture.

As it prepares to once again change hands at auction, the painting invites viewers to embark on a journey through history and immerse themselves in the timeless beauty of one of the Renaissance’s greatest masterpieces.

Images: Christie’s

Salon Privé

Salon Privé Magazine is the quintessence of luxury lifestyle journalism, renowned for its sophisticated portrayal of the opulent world since its inception in 2008. As a vanguard of high-end living, the magazine serves as an exclusive portal into the realms of haute couture, fine arts, and the aristocratic lifestyle. With over a decade of expertise, Salon Privé has established itself as the definitive source for those who seek the allure of luxury and elegance. The magazine's content is crafted by a cadre of experienced journalists, each bringing a wealth of knowledge from the luxury sector. This collective expertise is reflected in the magazine's diverse coverage, which spans the latest in fashion trends, intimate glimpses into royal lives, and the coveted secrets of the affluent lifestyle. Salon Privé's commitment to quality is evident in its thoughtful collaborations with industry titans and cultural connoisseurs, ensuring that its narratives are as authoritative as they are enchanting. With accolades that include being voted the number one luxury lifestyle magazine in the UK, Salon Privé continues to be at the forefront of luxury journalism, offering its discerning readership a guide to the finest experiences the world has to offer. Whether it's the grandeur of global fashion weeks, the splendor of exclusive soirées, or the pursuit of wellness and beauty, Salon Privé Magazine remains the emblem of luxury for the elite and the aspirants alike.