Did you hear about the record-setting Raphael that was sold yesterday? Following a strenuous battle between bidders, ‘Head of a Young Apostle’ was sold for $47.8 million at Sotheby’s, London (check out their video about it) for Chatworth House in Derbyshire, one of the world’s greatest Old Master Drawings collections. The price was almost three times the pre-sale low estimate. Artdaily.org reports that Gregory Rubinstein, Worldwide Head of Old Master Drawings at Sotheby’s, said “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.”
It’s no surprise that so many people stand in awe of Raphael’s exceptional abilities and his remarkable artwork. ‘Head of a Young Apostle’ shows a sketch for what would become one of the key figures (the first apostle on the left, if you’re looking) in Raphael’s famous Transfiguration – a work which took pride of place hanging above the artist’s head after his death when his body was laid out in state in his studio, and which now belongs to the Vatican Museum. There’s a story behind the Transfiguration, too – one which can only increase an art lover’s interest and appreciation for the work. Agora Gallery’s Registrar, Chiara Mortaroli, shares that story with us here.
We think of ourselves as in many ways very removed from the past, and the centuries that divide us from the Renaissance seem to separate us utterly from the way of life that was common then. Yet the art of that period continues to fascinate and charm the modern viewer, and by examining pieces from that time more closely, we can also learn how similar the emotions and human interactions they represent are to those experienced today. This tale of rivalry, friendship and fine art is a perfect example of this intriguing exercise.