A small, recently rediscovered drawing by Michelangelo (1475-1564), entitled “A young nude (from Masaccio) surrounded by two figures”, made at the beginning of his career, was auctioned today at Christie’s in Paris for 23,162 .000 euros, including commissions (equal to 19,645,462 pounds; 24,380,019 dollars), making it the most expensive work ever sold by the Renaissance artist, the highest price ever reached for a work on paper offered on the European continent and the third highest price ever sold for an ‘Old Master’ design. “This is an exceptionally rare work, one of the very few drawings by Michelangelo still in private hands”, commented with Adnkronos Stijn Alsteens, international director of Christie’s ‘Old Master Drawings’ department. “We are proud to have rediscovered this design and we are grateful to have been in charge of its sale. The exceptional price it has reached today is a testament to the continuing admiration for one of the greatest artists of all time and the strength of the market. art, especially for masterpieces of this caliber. “The auctioneer Victoire Gineste added:” The auctioning of a work of art of this magnitude can be a once in a lifetime opportunity. particular. I would also like to thank the collectors and bidders for their tribute to one of the greatest artists of all time. ” Coming from a French private collection, the drawing (33 x 20 cm), which represents Michelangelo’s first known nude, was declared a ‘French national treasure’, initially preventing its export from France for a period of thirty months. The French government recently removed this impediment and granted its export license, allowing the design to be offered without any restrictions. The drawing was first recognized as a work by Michelangelo in 2019 by Furio Rinaldi, then a specialist in Christie’s department of antique drawings. Paul Joannides, emeritus professor of art history at Cambridge University and author of the complete catalogs of Michelangelo’s drawings and his school at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford and the Louvre, was then able to study the original and arrive at the attribution. Sold in 1907 to the Hôtel Drouot in Paris as a work of Michelangelo’s school, the drawing had escaped the attention of all scholars until its recent rediscovery. A work by the young Michelangelo in Florence, dating from the late 15th century, this drawing is probably the artist’s first surviving nude study. The central figure of the work reproduces the trembling man depicted in the Baptism of the Neophytes, one of the famous frescoes in the Cappells Brancacci of the church of Santa Maria del Carmine in Florence by the first Italian Renaissance master Masaccio (1401-1428). inspired by Masaccio are known, including a drawing at the Staatliche Graphische Sammlung in Munich and one at the Albertina in Vienna, as well as a drawing inspired by a Giotto fresco in the Louvre. Using two shades of brown ink, Michelangelo makes the figure of Masaccio his own, enhancing the musculature of man and creating a more powerful and robust figure that heralds his most famous representations of the human body, such as his monumental David in marble at the Galleria dell ‘ Accademia di Firenze and its two slaves in the Louvre. In a completely different and more energetic style, Michelangelo later added two figures behind the trembling man, unrelated to Masaccio’s original composition.The sale of this well-preserved drawing by Michelangelo takes its place among the ranks of other great works on paper offered. auctioned at Christie’s in recent years, including Raphael’s Head of a Muse, which sold in London for more than £ 29 million ($ 38 million) in December 2009; Leonardo da Vinci’s exquisite Bear Head, which reached nearly £ 9 million ($ 11.8 million) in 2021; a rare male nude study by Michelangelo sold in London on July 4, 2000 for more than 8 million pounds (12 million dollars), setting the previous world record for a work by the artist. (by Paolo Martini)
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