A hidden painting was discovered in another.

Legendary Italian artist Sandro Botticelli’s work “The Man of Sorrows”, dated around 1500, has been hidden from public view for hundreds of years – apparently with a secret of its own.

The painting has been in private hands since the 19th century, which prevents it from being closely studied by experts. Now the piece is up for auction at Sotheby’s on January 27 with a guaranteed minimum price of $40 million.

And already, an expert has found a secret in his features.

While spending some time with the work recently, Chris Apostle, Senior Vice President of Sotheby’s and Director of Old Master Paintings, noticed something odd: what appeared to be the start of a composition of the Madonna cradling the baby Christ’s head against hers. When turned upside down and viewed in infrared, the details of this “Madonna of Tenderness” are particularly visible, CNN reported.

An unknown aspect of a painting, a so-called “underdrawing” is not unheard of, Apostle said. At the time, the material on which he painted, panel, would have been expensive.

“The panel was a precious commodity in the Renaissance,” he said, so it makes sense that Botticelli wouldn’t want to throw away the canvas just because he had abandoned the design of the first design he put on it. Instead, it seems, Botticelli simply turned the panel around and created the current stunning creation on it.

And while the parallel was probably unintentional, the painting’s dark significance supports the idea that some works may be destined to be abandoned.

“I feel there’s something about this image that Botticelli is projecting, an understanding that we’re all going to die – it has a deep emotional charge,” Apostle said of his interpretation of the work, which Botticelli is said to have painted. towards the end. of his life.

“If it had depicted Christ full and rigid, it would look more like an icon; a little more impenetrable.