December 6, 2012 - 10:29 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - One of the greatest drawings by Renaissance master Raphael still in private hands sold for £29.7m on Wednesday, Dec 5, an auction record for the artist in sterling terms and double pre-sale expectations, The Guardian reported.
Sotheby's auctioneers had high hopes for the 16th century Head of an Apostle, a study for Raphael's last painting Transfiguration which is on display at the Vatican Museum in Rome.
When the artist died in 1520, his body was laid out in state in his studio with the Transfiguration hanging at his head.
Measuring roughly 15 inches by 11 inches (38 cm by 28 cm), the picture drawn in black chalk went on a mini-world tour prior to the London auction in a bid to drum up interest from Asia as well as Europe and North America.
"If you are lucky, at some point in your career a work like this comes along," said Gregory Rubinstein, head of old master drawings at Sotheby's. "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."
According to Sotheby's, only two other Raphael drawings of the same calibre have been auctioned in the last 50 years - in 2009, Raphael's black chalk Head of a Muse sold for £29.2m at Christie's in London.
In dollar terms, that picture narrowly trumped Head of an Apostle due to fluctuating exchange rates, but since both were sold in pounds in London, Sotheby's is claiming the crown.
Head of an Apostle was from the collection at Chatsworth, the ancestral home of the 12th Duke of Devonshire who is also deputy chairman of Sotheby's. It is expected the proceeds of the sale will go towards the upkeep of the estate.
It was the last lot of the Old Master and British Paintings sale at Sotheby's which raised £58.1m overall.
The auction had been expected to total £35.6 - 52.9m, although hammer prices include buyers' premiums meaning that the final tally was in line with the upper estimate.
The buyer was not identified, but the winning bid went to a member of Sotheby's staff who often represents Russian clients.