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Raphael's Head of an Apostle to be sold at auction - RowlandsModernArt.com : RowlandsModernArt.com
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Raphael’s Head of an Apostle to be sold at auction

| September 5, 2012 | Comments

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Raphael’s Head of an Apostle to be sold at auction

Rare Renaissance drawing, a longstanding part of Devonshire collection at Chatsworth, estimated by Sotheby’s at £10m-£15m

An important and rare Renaissance drawing by Raphael that has been in the Devonshire collection at Chatsworth for centuries is to be sold at Sotheby’s in December, the auction house announced on Tuesday. The current Duke of Devonshire said its sale, along with two 15th-century illuminated manuscripts, would “now benefit the long-term future of Chatsworth and its collections”.

Detail from Raphael’s chalk drawing, Head of an Apostle, from the Devonshire collection at Chatsworth. Photograph: Devonshire Collection/Diane Naylor/Sotherby’s

Sotheby’s has estimated the black chalk drawing, Head of an Apostle, at £10m-£15m, but it would surprise few people if it went for more. A similar Raphael drawing, Head of a Muse, set the Old Master drawing auction record when it sold at Christie’s in 2009 for £29.2m. Cristiana Romalli, Sotheby’s senior director of Old Masters, called it “a paramount example of Raphael’s draughtsmanship – and shows exactly why he is revered as very possibly the greatest master of drawing who has ever lived”.

The drawing was a working “auxiliary cartoon” for a figure in Raphael’s greatest late work, Transfiguration, which hangs in the Vatican.

Romalli added: “The sheer beauty of this work is utterly breathtaking and the way it allows us to join Raphael as he created his last great masterpiece is hugely exciting.”

Sotheby’s says only two Raphael drawings of similar importance have appeared at market in the past 50 years, each setting a record.

Gregory Rubinstein, the auction house’s worldwide head of Old Master drawings, said: “It is one of the greatest privileges of my career to be handling the sale of a drawing of such extraordinary importance – and of such incredible power and beauty, too.”

While it will no doubt be a disappointment to lose, the Devonshire collection will still be left with 14 Raphael drawings. Only the British Museum and the Ashmolean in Oxford can lay claim to more.

The Devonshires are also selling two illuminated manuscripts produced in Flanders with the Mystère de la Vengeance estimated at £4m-£6m and the Deeds of Sir Gillion de Trazegnies in the Middle East estimated at £3m-£5m.

by the Guardian – Mark Brown

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Category: Art News