Art Market: Michelangelo drawing revealed: A major work by the Renaissance master, unseen since 1836, is to be auctioned by Christie's in July

CHRISTIE'S pulled off a coup yesterday when it unveiled a major drawing by Michelangelo, unseen since 1836, to be auctioned in July.

The last time that a comparable drawing by the Renaissance genius appeared on the market was 1936 and Christie's is hesitant about suggesting an estimate for The Holy Family with the Infant Baptist, a tender study in chalk and ink. Its only gauge is a Raphael, a man's head and hand, sold in the 1984 Chatsworth sale for pounds 3.5m.

The Michelangelo, unusually large in size and complex in technique, has been dated to the early 1530s, when the artist was working in the Medici chapel in Florence.

Noel Annesley, deputy chairman of Christie's, said: 'This is not just a drawing by Michelangelo, but a major drawing by Michelangelo.'

He did not foresee problems over exporting the work, as it had already been offered to the British Museum and other public collections: 'They would have loved to have bought it. They couldn't afford it.' As some two fifths of Michelangelo's surviving drawings are in British collections, its export would be 'sad, but not a disaster'.

Professor Michael Hirst, a leading Michelangelo scholar, said that the number of drawings in private collections was less than a handful. 'It would be wonderful if this one was added to the collections of the BM or the Ashmolean . . . Maybe some philanthropist will step forward and find the money.'

The drawing can be traced back to one of Michelangelo's descendants (from whom Napoleon's commissioner in Italy bought it) and on to Sir Thomas Lawrence, the English portrait painter who built up a superlative drawings collection.

All the Michelangelo drawings at the Ashmolean, Oxford, and 48 of 85 at the British Museum were owned by Lawrence. The seller of Christie's example is an anonymous British collector.

Christie's also unveiled yesterday an important Holbein miniature - two jewel-like portraits within a single frame - of Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex, the most powerful figure at the Court of Henry VIII. The estimate is more than pounds 500,000.

A set of 24 photographs by Alexander Rodchenko, the Russian photographer, was sold by Christie's yesterday for pounds 198,375. The highest price was for Steps, 1935, which sold for pounds 32,200 (estimate pounds 15,000-pounds 20,000).

A set of Rodchenko prints sold for pounds 495,165, less auctioneer's commission, at Christie's last October, not pounds 892,320 as reported in the Independent yesterday.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has over 40 years ...

Recruitment Genius: Weekend Factory Operatives

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This high quality thread manufacturer is curr...

Recruitment Genius: FP&A Analyst

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A market leading acquirer and m...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fully qualified electricians re...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific