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    Raphael’s Head of an Apostle sold for £29.7 million at Sothebys in London on December 5.

    Raphael’s Head of an Apostle (c. 1519-20) achieved a record £29.7 million at Sotheby’s in London tonight. This is the second highest price ever achieved for any Old Master work of art. It dramatically surpassed all previous prices achieved not only for any Old Master drawing, but for any Work on Paper sold at auction.
    Following an intense battle between four bidders – both in the auction room and on the phones – which was sustained for 17 minutes and leapt in increments of up to five hundred thousand pounds, the hammer came down on the winning bid cast on the telephone.

    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.”

    The Raphael drawing being shown at the auction.

    Executed in black chalk, the 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 an Apostle, is one of only three drawings of this calibre to have appeared at auction in the last 50 years.

    The Massacre of the Innocents by Sir Peter Paul Rubens which made £49.5 million at Sotheby’s in London in 2002 remains the most expensive Old Master painting ever sold at auction.  Turner’s Modern Rome – Campo Vaccino, sold at Sotheby’s in London in 2010 to the Getty Museum in Los Angeles now shares second place with Raphael as both works made £29.7 million.  In July 2011 Francesco Guardi’s Venice, a View of the Rialto Bridge, Looking North, from the Fondamenta del Carbon made £26.7 million at Sotheby’s in London and is the next on the list of most expensive Old Masters.

    (See post on for September 4, 2012).

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