A drawing by Michelangelo was sold this Wednesday for 23,162,000 euros at Christie's auction house in Paris, a record for a work of this type by the Italian genius.
It is his first known nude, an attraction that had led him to value it at 30 million euros, to which is added that only three years ago it was attributed to the Renaissance master, within the framework of an inventory carried out for a French private collection. , “an important moment in the history of art”, as the president of Christie's France, Cécile Verdier, pointed out at the time.
The piece, entitled
nude young man
), “escaped the attention of specialists” for a long time, until it was awarded new authorship by a specialist in Christie's Old Master Drawings Department.
This work was declared a “national treasure” by the French heritage authorities in September 2019, when it was attributed to Michelangelo.
This circumstance prohibited its departure from the national territory for 30 months, which have now elapsed, and also gave the French State and its museums the opportunity to buy it.
However, as no offers have come in during this period, the drawing was first exhibited in Hong Kong and then in New York before finally being put up for sale in Paris.
As usual in these auctions, no information about the buyer has emerged.
"There are less than ten drawings by Michelangelo in private hands", declared the director of the department of old drawings at Christie's, Hélène Rihal, after learning of the sale of this youthful piece, from the end of the 15th century, by the painter of the Chapel Sistine.
During the last decade of that century, Michelangelo “made a series of sketches from the works of Florentine masters of previous generations”, as the artist and art historian Giorgio Vasari wrote in his
Life of Michelangelo.
artist did it in pen is influenced by his first teacher, Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449-1494).
The work, done in pen and in two shades of brown ink, had already been sold in 1907 at an auction at the Hotel Drouot in Paris, but under the classification of School of Michelangelo.
It has exceeded the price of another drawing by the artist,
The Risen Christ
Christ ), which reached 9.5 million euros in July 2000, at Christie's London, the house has reported in a statement.
The work is in “good condition”.
The drawing is 33 centimeters high by 20 wide and in it Michelangelo depicted the trembling man portrayed in the
Baptism of the Neophytes
, a fresco by the Quattrocento painter Masaccio (1401-1428) which is in the church of Santa Maria del Carmen, in Florence, dated 1425. In this biblical scene, the story of Saint Peter the Apostle baptizing new Christians is told, one of whom is undressed, trembling and with his arms outstretched;
he was the model that Michelangelo looked at for his drawing.
The line shows the mastery of the versatile artist when it comes to expressing the expressive force of the male body.
The house adds that, after a first version, Michelangelo changed the position of the legs and feet of the main figure, and added the two men who surround him and who are not in Masaccio's original.