Antonio Canova’s Maddalena Giacente (Recumbent Magdalene), regarded as his lost masterpiece and completed shortly before his death, will be a star lot in the Old Masters Evening Sale on 7 July 2022 at Christie’s in London
At one stage the sculpture was located outside the front of the house in Addison Road owned by antique dealer Jon Manasseh which Boty shared with Celia Birtwell. Derek Boshier also rented a room as a studio there whilst Peter Blake stored his paintings. The sculpture even makes a brief appearance in Ken Russell’s 1962 documentary Pop Goes the Easel with an aerial shot of Blake seated on it whilst he, Boshier and Peter Phillips wait for Boty to respond to their ringing the bell to be let in.
From the Christie’s website:
Having accidentally become an art world ‘sleeping beauty’ over the last 100 years – her authorship gradually forgotten and whereabouts unknown – this outstanding sculpture of Mary Magdalene in a state of ecstasy was commissioned by the Prime Minister of the day, Lord Liverpool (1812-1827). Recumbent Magdalene will be a star lot during Christie’s Summer edition of Classic Week in London.
Dr. Mario Guderzo, leading Canova scholar, former Director of the Museo Gypsotheca Antonio Canova and Museo Biblioteca Archivio di Bassano del Grappa commented: “It is a miracle that Antonio Canova’s exceptional, long lost masterpiece the Recumbent Magdalene has been found, 200 years after its completion. This work has been searched for by scholars for decades, so the discovery is of fundamental importance for the history of collecting and the history of art. It testifies to the intensive thought process of the work of the Italian sculptor who was a fundamental witness of his time: faithful to Pope Pius VII, sought after by Napoleon, beloved by the English sovereign George IV, esteemed by the world of European collecting and of critical importance for the restitution of works of art seized under Napoleon. The re-discovery of the Recumbent Magdalene brings to a conclusion a very particular story worthy of a novel, of a marble of significant historical value and great aesthetic beauty produced by Canova in the final years of his artistic activity.”
Details of work
Antonio Canova (Possagno 1757–1822 Venice)
Maddalena Giacente (Recumbent Magdalene), Marble, 1819–1822
75 x 176 x 84.5 cm (291⁄2 x 691⁄4 x 331⁄4 in.)
Estimate: GBP 5,000,000–8,000,000
Further information on the work and sale, including a short film with Christie’s European Sculpture specialist Donald Johnston and art critic Alastair Sooke on its remarkable rediscovery, is available here: [link]