Christie’s is selling a Raphael drawing, one of that has been in private hands for 150 years, in its December 8th Old Master sale in London. The drawing is estimated at £12-16m, well above the record price achieved for an Old Master drawing. The FT explains why:
The compelling 12 in high (30.5cm) black chalk “Head of a Muse” is a study for a figure in the “Parnassus”, one of the series of four frescoes in the Stanza della Segnatura in the Vatican commissioned by Pope Julius II in 1508. It is widely considered as one of the masterpieces of European painting. The fact that the room was the Pope’s private library is suggested by the subjects of the decoration. “Parnassus” represents an assemblage of classical and modern poets gracefully gathered around a central group of Apollo and the Muses.
Raphael Sanzio, called Raphael (1483-1520), executed numerous preparatory studies for the “Parnassus” and this example of his innovative type of drawing, known as an ‘auxiliary cartoon’, reflects his meticulous methods. The usual practice in the Renaissance was for the final design of the composition to be worked out in the form of a full-size cartoon, the outlines of which would be transferred to the surface to be painted either by tracing or by pricking with a series of small holes through which dark powder was brushed or blown. Raphael’s method was to take a copy from these cartoons in order to resolve his figures as carefully as possible before starting painting. The dotted underdrawing is clearly visible here.
[…] The current record price for an Old Master drawing offered at auction is £8.1m, realised for Michelangelo’s “The Risen Christ”, sold in 2000, and Leonardo da Vinci’s “Horse and Rider”, also sold at Christie’s, in 2001.
Raphael Drawing expected to Fetch £16m (Financial Times)