And there is just as much chance of discoveries in old drawings as in oils. Phillips' sale, Wednesday (11am) has two untrumpeted discoveries this week. They were not dramatically uncovered in attic or cowshed but as a result of diligent, intelligent research.
One is a delightful 17th century pen, ink and wash by Claude Lorrain of figures loading a barge, with a study of a workman on the "verso", or back (verso studies are another not-uncommon extra with drawings). It has "Claude" written on the mount, but the owner could not attribute it for sure.
Then the authority on Claude drawings, Professor Marcel Roethlisberger of Geneva University, recognised a stain in the top right hand corner. It was the same shape as a fainter stain on a Claude drawing in the Queen's collection at Windsor - known to have been taken from one of the master's sketch books. A missing Claude had been found.
The other discovery is a drawing of two cherubs attributed to Raphael until sold at Christie's in 1958, when it was attributed to the Mannerist artist Perino del Vaga. It has now been given back to Raphael. Such chop and change shows the bewildering, fluctuations of scholarship. The attribution to the less-known Perino del Vaga was by a British Museum expert. Unfortunately, he gave judgment just a year before an explosion of scholarly papers on del Vaga, an exhibition of the artist's work at the Uffizi, Florence, in 1966, and a book in 1986. Two acknowledged authorities on late Raphael have declared it as such. But beware: such research is as yet in its infancy.
The Raphael is estimated pounds 20,000-pounds 30,000. As a del Vaga it would have est pounds 3,000-pounds 5,000. The Claude is pounds 7,000-pounds 10,000. Sotheby's Old Master drawings are Wednesday (6pm).Reuse content