A recently rediscovered sketch of the artist’s first known nude, Michelangelo, sold for 23 million euros ($ 24 million) at auction at Christie’s in Paris on Wednesday, a record for one of the Italian master’s paintings.
Representing a naked man with two other background images, the late 15th century sketch in pen and brown ink has recently been revived in a private French collection more than a century later.
Including the buyer’s premium, the sale price surpassed the previous record of 9.5 million euros for the Renaissance artist’s “The Raisen Christ” in Christie, London in 2000, but was less than the list price of 30 million euros.
“Michelangelo has less than 10 drawings that are in private hands,” Helen Rihal, Christie’s director of the 19th-century drawing department, told AFP before the auction. The sketch was last put up for sale in 1907 at the Hotel Druit in Paris.
Nude, partly based on a fresco of Massacio in the Brancaki chapel in Florence, according to Christie, was thus managed to “avoid the gaze of the experts,” who declared it very well preserved.
It was only in 2019 that experts identified it as the work of an Italian Renaissance genius (1475-1564) during a listing of a private French collection.
In September of that year, it was declared “France’s national treasure,” barring the French government and museums from leaving French territory for 30 months, allowing them to purchase it.
However, no offers were forthcoming, and in recent weeks the work has been shown in Hong Kong and New York to increase interest before the auction.
The sketch is the size of an A4 sheet of paper (eight by 12 inches, 21 by 30 centimeters) and bears a close resemblance to an image of Massacio’s fresco “The Baptism of the Neophytes” (1426-27).
But “it’s more than just a copy,” Christie’s Old Masters expert Steven Alstins said on the auctioneer’s website.
“Michelangelo has decided to turn the figure into something that is more consistent with his aesthetics, making him much stronger and more reminiscent, while maintaining the fragility of the image, which is exposed and trembling,” he said while waiting for his baptism.
Alstins added that the artist created the nearly 21-year-old sketch early in his high-profile career.
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and was automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)