What comes next for a painting that launched a Renaissance master’s career, hung in a Habsburg palace, was stolen twice and recovered at a bus stop?
An auction record for the artist, of course.

Setting an auction record is probably the least surprising thing that happened to Titian’s painting The Rest on the Flight into Egypt in hundreds of years. So when the painting sold for £17.6 million ($22.1 million) as part of Christie’s Old Masters Part I auction in London on July 2, no one was startled during the auction house’s Classic Week London series.

If ever a painting deserved a bit of normalcy, it is Titian’s masterpiece.

The Rest on the Flight to Egypt

Ensured to sell by a third-party guarantee, and with a presale estimate of £15 million to £25 million, or $19.1 million to $31.9 million, the painting was expected to set a new auction record for artwork by Titian. The previous record price was $16.9 million for A Sacra Conversazione: The Madonna and Child with Saints Luke and Catherine of Alexandria at Sotheby’s New York in 2011. Since The Rest on the Flight into Egypt sold for around $22.1 million, making it the top lot in the sale, it definitely met expectations. Christie’s UK chairman Orlando Rock called the sale ”a tribute to the impeccable provenance and quiet beauty of this sublime early masterpiece by Titian.”

The quality of Titian’s work, especially the naturalism of the scene and the compassionate depiction of its subjects, no doubt contributed to its high price. So did its significance in his career, as one of his earliest works was painted when he was a young man, possibly a teenager, in Venice. But the painting’s provenance is an undeniable part of its appeal. It belonged to the Habsburg family when they controlled the Holy Roman Empire and was looted by Napoleon’s troops during their occupation of Vienna in 1809. In 1878, it was sold to John Alexander Thyme, 4th Marquess of Bath—coincidentally, at a Christie’s auction—who kept it in Longleat House in Wiltshire, England. The painting made headlines in 1995 when it was stolen from the house and again in 2002 when it was found at a bus stop in London.

While The Rest on the Flight into Egypt may have had the best story of any lot at the Old Masters I sale, it wasn’t the only one to set a record. The Madonna of the Cherries sold for £10.66 million ($13.46 million) to the J. Paul Getty Museum. It is a record price for artist Quentin Metsys (also spelled Quinten Massys or Matsys), who lived in the Netherlands from 1466 to 1530. The entire sale brought in £43.59 million ($55.1 million).

The Madonna of the Cherries

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