Czech officials buy rare 15th century miniature at Sotheby’s auction
Officials from the Central Bohemian region bought a rare 15th century miniature at auction at Sotheby’s in London on Tuesday. The artwork, depicting silver mining in the Bohemia town of Kutná Hora, eventually went for over half a million pounds sterling, and is set to be the most important piece at a newly established gallery there.
“It was fairly tense, and dramatic as well. There were about four or five people bidding but at the end, the Central Bohemian Gallery won. The bidding almost stopped well before 500,000, and then it just went over half a million which was quite dramatic.”
Sotheby’s said the miniature was one of the most remarkable pieces of its kind that they had ever auctioned, and one of the largest and most significant secular illuminated miniatures of all time. It was made in Bohemia in late 15th century for a choral book of one of the churches of Kutná Hora. The panoramic frontispiece depicts scenes of silver mining and processing in the town, an important mining centre of the Czech lands of the time.
“I think it’s a great success for the whole of Bohemia, for the town of Kutná Hora as well as for the Central Bohemian region.”
The authorities will have to reach much deeper into their pockets than originally expected. The final price of the miniature, with all fees included, amounted to over 610,000 pounds. Some have criticized Governor Rath for having publicly announcing the region’s interest in buying the rare miniature before setting off for London. Jiří Fajt is a leading Czech expert on Medieval art.
After the miniature, which governor Rath described as Central Bohemia’s Mona Lisa, arrives in the Czech Republic, it will be examined by experts. Then it will become perhaps the most significant artefact in the region’ gallery in Kutná Hora, the town where it was made some 600 years ago. Experts warn, however, that due to its fragile condition, it will be only possible to display it for three months at a time.