Sotheby’s announces today that its December 5th Old Masters sale in London will feature three works on paper from the Devonshire Collection at Chatsworth.
Executed in black chalk, Raphael’s Head of an Apostle, c.1519-20, (estimated at £10–15 million) is a highly important drawing within the artist’s oeuvre: an extremely refined study for one of the key figures in the Transfiguration, one of the greatest of all Renaissance paintings, which now hangs in the Vatican Museum in Rome. When Raphael died, his body was laid out in state in his studio, with the Transfiguration hanging at his head.
The manuscripts to be sold were made for two of the greatest libraries of the 15th century and are flawlessly preserved, with dazzling royal and ducal provenances. The first, the Mystere de la Vengeance (estimated at £4-6 million) was acquired by the 6th Duke of Devonshire at the celebrated Roxburghe sale of 1812, when it sold for £493.10s. – then the highest price ever paid for any illuminated manuscript. The second illuminated manuscript, estimated at £3-5 million, is an account of the fictional and swashbuckling Deeds of Sir Gillion de Trazegnies in the Middle East and was once among the most treasured works in the library of great Renaissance patron of the arts François I, King of France, 1515-47.