A Raphael drawing and medieval manuscripts may set records in a Sotheby’s (BID) auction estimated to make more than $41 million for an English aristocrat.
Peregrine Cavendish, Duke of Devonshire, is raising money to preserve his home and is selling the Raphael with a price forecast of 10 million pounds ($15.9 million) to 15 million pounds. The sketch is included in a Dec. 5 London auction of Old Master paintings and drawings, Sotheby’s said today in an e- mailed release.
“The sale of these works which our family has long cared for will now benefit the long-term future of Chatsworth and its collections,” the 12th Duke of Devonshire, who is deputy chairman of Sotheby’s, said in the e-mail.
Museum-quality works by the world’s most famous artists are fetching higher prices as new buyers enter the market and rich collectors concentrate their investments on the rarest trophies. Dealers are looking to the best quality works to set records.
This latest piece by Raffaello Sanzio, called Raphael (1483-1520), to be offered at auction is a study for one of the figures in “The Transfiguration,” a much-admired late painting now in the Vatican Museum, Rome.
“Auxiliary Cartoon for the Head of a Young Apostle,” drawn in black chalk, was acquired 300 years ago by William Cavendish, 2nd Duke of Devonshire, and kept in the family collection at Chatsworth, Derbyshire.
In December 2009, Raphael’s black chalk “Head of a Muse” sold for 29.2 million pounds ($47.6 million at the time) at Christie’s International, setting an auction record for a work on paper. It was bought on the telephone, dealers said, by the U.S.-based collector Leon Black, chief executive of Apollo Global Management LLC and a trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Two 15th-century Flemish manuscripts from Chatsworth are also up for sale.
“Mystere de la Vengeance,” made in 1468 for Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, is priced at 4 million pounds to 6 million pounds. Featuring 20 large illustrations, this text of a court play was the most expensive illuminated manuscript sold at auction when it fetched 493 pounds and 10 shillings in 1812.
The chivalric romance “Deeds of Sir Gillion de Trazegnies in the Holy Land” was formerly owned by King Francis I of France, and is estimated at 3 million pounds to 5 million pounds. The Trustees of the Chatsworth and Bolton Abbey Estates have to maintain and restore about 300 listed buildings.
Faced with similar costs, the 11th Duke of Devonshire sold a group of drawings from Chatsworth at Christie’s in 1984. These included Raphael’s red chalk “Head and Hand of an Apostle,” which sold for 5.3 million pounds, then a record for an Old Master drawing at auction.
“Living at Chatsworth is a very expensive business,” the Duke said after Christie’s 1984 auction. “It is the first time that any work of art has been sold from Chatsworth for a purpose other than paying taxes. I deeply regret it.”
(Scott Reyburn writes about the art market for Muse, the arts and culture section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)
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