Mozart childhood portrait sold for €4m at Paris auction

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A rare portrait of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart aged 13 has fetched €4m (£3.4m; $4.4m) at a Christie’s auction in Paris – far more than had been expected.

It shows the Austrian musical prodigy playing a harpsichord during a tour of Italy in January 1770.

Christie’s says the composer and his father were staying in Verona with Pietro Lugiati, a top official in the Republic of Venice. An admirer of Mozart, he commissioned the painting.

It is attributed to a Veronese artist.

“It was most probably painted by the Veronese master Giambettino Cignaroli, who was Lugiati’s cousin,” said Astrid Centner, head of the auction house’s Old Masters department in Paris.

Only five portraits of Mozart were painted from life.

The portrait sold on Wednesday intrigues scholars, especially because it shows an entire composition in front of Mozart which only exists in the painting – not as a manuscript. He was already a musical “Wunderkind” at the time of his Italy tour.

Mozart portrait in auction, 12 Nov 19
Image captionThe entire musical score in the painting intrigues scholars

The score is marked “molto allegro” (very quick) and is now known as “Allegro of Verona, KV72a in G Major”. Some musicologists say it could have been composed by Mozart, but others say the style is that of Venetian composer Baldassare Galuppi.

The portrait came to Christie’s from the collection of Alfred Cortot, a Franco-Swiss pianist and conductor.

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