14th-century triptych sold by Christie's to private collector for $300,000

14th-century triptych sold by Christie's to private collector for $300,000
November 21, 2007

Phil Brozynski, Media Relations Manager
(630) 829-6094

A 650-year-old artwork donated to Benedictine University art curator Fr. Michael Komechak, O.S.B. by a former student was sold by Christie’s of New York to a private collector for $300,000. The piece, called a triptych because it is divided into three carved panels which are hinged together and fold, features paintings of the Madonna and Child with Saint John the Baptist and Saint Peter and depictions of the Crucifixion and the Virgin Annunciate. The triptych was a gift from the late Paul Donovan, who died in June 2006. Per Donovan’s request, the proceeds from the sale will fund the establishment of a permanent art gallery on the Benedictine University campus. “I am absolutely delighted,” Fr. Michael said. “We will be able to honor Paul’s wishes and create a place to display more of the artwork from the collection.” The piece, a work by Florentine artist Niccolo Di Tommaso (c. 1343- c. 1376), is one of a group of devotional works produced by the artist. Other works by Di Tommaso can be found in the Museum of San Martino in Naples, Italy and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Paul Donovan inherited the piece from his parents, James and Doris, who were presented the triptych by William and Eleanor Wood Prince in the 1950s. Fr. Michael attended Donovan’s wedding in the 1960s and maintained a close friendship with his family. “Before he died, Paul told his wife, Gail, that he would like to give something to me,” said Fr. Michael, who has spent many years hanging the Benedictine art collection throughout campus. “I’m not sure anybody really knew what they had.”


Benedictine University is an independent Roman Catholic institution located in Lisle, Illinois just 25 miles west of Chicago. Founded in 1887, Benedictine provides 56 undergraduate majors, 16 graduate and four doctorate programs. The Chronicle of Higher Education recently ranked Benedictine University as the seventh fastest-growing campus among private nonprofit master’s universities, and Forbes magazine named Benedictine among the top 20 percent of America’s colleges for 2011. Benedictine University’s Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) program is listed by Crain’s Chicago Business as the fourth largest in the Chicago area in 2011.