This auction in Paris surpasses the record set for a drawing by the famous Italian painter and sculptor, set so far in July 2000 by “The Risen Christ” (£ 8.1 million, or € 9.5 million). Christie’s London, according to the auction house.
The size of an A4 sheet, it seems to be inspired by a fresco by the painter Masaccio (“Le baptême des neophytes”) and illustrates Michelangelo’s interest in representing the male body, according to AFP.
It is a miraculously rediscovered work of youth by Michelangelo Buonarroti, inspired by Masaccio’s “Baptême des néophytes”, one of the most important artists of the Quattrocento (Early Renaissance). On May 18, Christie’s Paris will be releasing this unique, large-scale drawing of a naked young man as part of the “Maîtres anciens et du XIXe siècle” session. The work will be proposed with an estimate of 30 million euros, writes Le Figaro.
The work comes from a private French collection. Once classified as a national treasure, it now has an export certificate and can be offered without restriction to collectors around the world. Before going on sale in Paris, it will be exhibited in Hong Kong and New York.
The drawing was recognized in 2019 as Michelangelo by a former Christie’s drawing specialist, Furio Rinaldi, an assignment later confirmed by Cambridge University professor of art history Paul Joannides, author of Michelangelo’s Complete Catalog of Drawings and his school at the Louvre Museum and the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. Sold in 1907 at the Hotel Drouot as a school work by Michelangelo, the drawing escaped the attention of all specialists until its recent rediscovery.
The young Michelangelo (1475-1564) made the drawing, which is probably his first known nude study, in Florence, at the end of the 15th century.
The central figure resumes one of the characters in “Baptême des néophytes” (Baptism of the Neophytes), one of the famous frescoes painted by one of the founding painters of the Italian Renaissance, Masaccio (1401-1428), on the walls of the Brancacci chapel of the Florentine church of Santa Maria del Carmine. Several handwritten studies of the artist are known after Masaccio, especially at the Munich Printing Office and the Albertina in Vienna, while a copy of another fresco by the painter Giotto is kept at the Louvre Museum.
Using two brown inks of different tones, Michelangelo appropriated Masaccio’s figure, making it more muscular, robust, monumental, like his future representations of the human body, such as David in marble at the Galleria dell Accademia in Florence and the two his slaves from the Louvre. In the drawing, Michelangelo associates, on both sides, two figures, unrelated to Masaccio’s fresco, executed with the help of a freer and more vigorous pen touch.
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