Botticelli Madonna and Child Painting
Sold at Auction for a Paltry $7.5 Million
Why am I bothered that a Botticelli
Madonna and Child painting recently sold at auction
for $7.5 million? That seems like a hefty price tag not just
for a Botticelli Madonna and Child painting but for
any painting, right? Wrong! What's wrong with this picture? I
don't usually rant, but I think today I will.
hereto see our
fine art reproductions.
When a Botticelli Madonna and Child painting goes
for only $7.5 million while one of Jackson Pollock's
drip paintings recently sold on the auction block at Christie's
for $140 million, something is wrong with the world.
Surely it's not just me who sees the inequity in this
situation. An original Botticelli Madonna and Child
painting ought to fetch a larger price tag than a Pollock--in
any universe. Botticelli's works are still popular 500 years
after his demise. Who will remember Jackson Pollock as a
master artist 500 years from now? Who knows?
Am I a big Botticelli fan? Not really. So, why am I
defending him? Well, it's because he deserves better than the
crumbs that the misguided art world drops on the floor. I adore
art, but Botticelli has never been one of my personal
favorites. I hesitate to use this term, but his early images
are sweet, and I don't find his Christ Child model
particularly appealing. And then, his heads are sometimes
put on their bodies at an odd angle. Botticelli's Madonna
model for this Madonna and Child painting was
obviously his favorite, the beautiful Simonetta Vespucci, whose
face appeared again and again in his works, even nine years
after her death when Botticelli painted the Birth of
I much prefer the power and awe-inspiring images of the
mature works of Michelangelo,
Raphael, and Titian, but
this Botticelli Madonna and Child painting is a
stunning work by a renowned master. Apparently contemporary
collectors don't share my aesthetic sensibilities. One of
Christie's Old Masters directors was quoted after the
auction as saying, "We are extremely pleased with the results
of this evening's sale..." In his place I would have cried.
There are a number of modern and contemporary artists I admire,
but auctions that bring in $140 million for a drip painting
bring to mind the words of P. T. Barnum who said, "A sucker is
born every minute."
Brenda Harness, Art Historian
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