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  1. Wealth
December 6, 2012

Raphael’s Head of a Young Apostle Makes Record £30 million at Sotheby’s

By Spear's

In a crowded saleroom at Sotheby’s London, the art world witnessed an historic moment tonight when Raphael’s Head of a Young Apostle (c. 1519-20) dramatically set a new record at auction for the artist, when it achieved £29.7 million / $47.8 million / -36.6 million

LONDON, Wednesday 5th December, 2012 – In a crowded saleroom at Sotheby’s London, the art world witnessed an historic moment tonight when Raphael’s Head of a Young Apostle (c. 1519-20) dramatically set a new record at auction for the artist, when it achieved £29.7 million / $47.8 million / €36.6 million.

Following an intense 17 minute battle between four bidders – both in the auction room and on the phones – the hammer came down on the winning bid which was cast on the telephone. The room erupted in a round of applause as the drawing – which came to sale from one of the greatest Old Master Drawings collections in the world, the Devonshire Collection at Chatsworth – achieved a price almost three times that of its pre-sale low estimate of £10-15 million.

Gregory Rubinstein, Worldwide Head of Old Master Drawings at Sotheby’s, said “If you are lucky, at some point in your career a work like this comes along. A number of the world’s greatest collectors stepped up tonight in recognition of the genius of Raphael and the extraordinary beauty of this drawing with its exceptional provenance.”

Read more: Sotheby’s hits highest auction total in history at $375m

Head of a Young Apostle (pictured below) was the headline work at tonight’s Evening Sale of Old Master & British Paintings Including Three Renaissance Masterworks from Chatsworth, which achieved £58,061,500 / $93,513,852 / €71,514,547 (est. £35.6-52.9 million). In addition to the record achieved for Raphael’s drawing, seven further records were achieved in tonight’s sale, including Jan Havicksz. Steen (full list below). The sale was 74.5% sold by lot and 86.8% by value, with nine works selling for more than £1 million and 11 works selling for over $1 million. Of the lots sold, half achieved prices over their pre-sale high estimate.

Alex Bell, Sotheby’s Co-Chairman, Old Master Paintings, Worldwide, said: “Tonight’s sale was a great way to end what has been a fantastic year for Sotheby’s – from the record-breaking sale of The Scream, to tonight’s landmark sale of the exceptional Raphael drawing from the Devonshire Collection. While that of course was the undoubted highlight of the evening, the rest of the sale also demonstrated depth and strength in this market which has benefitted in recent years from an influx of buyers from new geographic areas, and collectors who have previously been active in other fields.”

Raphael’s Head of a Young Apostle
Executed in black chalk, the highly important drawing from the Devonshire Collection at Chatsworth depicts one of the key figures in Raphael’s Transfiguration – one of the greatest of all Renaissance paintings, which now hangs in the Vatican Museum, Rome. When Raphael died, his body was laid out in state in his studio with the Transfiguration hanging at his head. Head of a Young Apostle, is one of only three Raphael drawings of this calibre have appeared at auction in the last 50 years – each of which set an all-time record for an Old Master Drawing when they were sold.*

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Cristiana Romalli, Senior Director in the Department of Old Master Drawings at Sotheby’s, commented: “This very moving study is 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 sheer beauty of this work is utterly breath-taking – and the way in which it allows us to join Raphael as he created his last great masterpiece is hugely exciting.”

Read more: Other sale records set at Sotheby’s

Also from The Devonshire Collection at Chatsworth, a flawlessly preserved 15th-century illuminated manuscript, The Deeds of Sir Gillion de Trazegnies in the Middle East, was bought by the J. Paul Getty Museum for £3,849,250 (est. £3-5 million). Produced in Flanders for one of the greatest libraries of the 15th century and distinguished by a dazzling royal and ducal provenance, the manuscript was once among the most treasured works in the library of great Renaissance patron of the arts François I, king of France, 1515-47.

Other Notable Prices Achieved
Jan Havicksz. Steen’s The Prayer Before the Meal, from the collection at Sudeley Castle (est. £5-7 million), achieved £5,641,250.

Four extremely rare 14th-century paintings by the Florentine artist Niccolò di Pietro Gerini, depicting Scenes from the Passion of Christ estimated at £800,000-1 million achieved £1,105,250. Datable to circa 1390, they are the only known surviving examples of an Italian 14th century narrative cycle on linen.

Painted by Bernardo Bellotto at the age of just 17 or 18, Venice, The Grand Canal, Looking South-West, From the Rialto Bridge to the Palazzo Foscari (£1,200,000-1,800,000) sold for £3,289,250 The painting has been hung, consecutively, in two of the finest, and largest, nineteenth-century neo-Gothic castles in Great Britain: Saltmarshe Castle and Penrhyn Castle.

Portrait of Giovanni Gaddi (1493-1542), Head and Shoulders, Wearing a Black Cap (est. £600,000-800,000) was most likely painted in Florence in the first years of the 16th century. Formerly attributed to Ridolfo Ghirlandaio, this exceptional portrait by a singular hand is remarkably – and tantalisingly – yet to find an entirely convincing attribution. This evening it sold to an online bidder for £1,273,250.

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