Lost Michelangelo is discovered in Castle Howard

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The Independent Online

A 500-year-old drawing by Michelangelo has been found in the library of Castle Howard in North Yorkshire - the setting for the classic television adaptation of Brideshead Revisited.

A 500-year-old drawing by Michelangelo has been found in the library of Castle Howard in North Yorkshire - the setting for the classic television adaptation of Brideshead Revisited.

The pen and brown ink drawing of a mourning woman was pasted into a scrapbook. It has now been valued at £8m.

The work, thought to date from between 1495 and 1505, was discovered by Julien Stock, a specialist with the auctioneer's Sotheby's, in an otherwise unremarkable volume of drawings at the house.

Mr Stock said: "What I thought when I first saw the drawing is unprintable. I immediately realised this was a major drawing by Michelangelo - and no one had any idea it was here."

Sotheby's are handling the sale of the three-quarter length study of a woman in mourning clothes. A spokesman said it was hoped that it could be saved for the nation with a sale by private treaty.

The drawing is being offered on behalf of the trustees of the will of the late Lord Howard of Henderskelfe. If no buyer is found, it could end up on the open market with a price tag equal or exceeding that at Christie's on 4 July of Michelangelo's Study for the Risen Christ, which fetched a world record of £8,134,750.

That drawing, described as the most important to come on to the market for 50 years, set a new best price for an Old Master drawing, beating Raphael's Heart and Hand of an Apostle, which realised £5.2m in 1996.

The Castle Howard work bears the mark of the 18th-century English artist and collector Jonathan Richardson Snr. It was almost certainly bought by Henry Howard, Fourth Earl of Carlisle, at auction in 1747. It was probably pasted into the 19th-century scrapbook by the ninth earl and his wife. For the past 250 years the picture has almost certainly languished in the scrapbook, unrecognised.

Simon Howard, the owner of Castle Howard - which has been in the family for 10 generations - recently divorced from his wife, Annette, the former Countess Compton, was said to be "over the moon" by the discovery. He said: "Clearly, this is a drawing of major importance and, as such, it should be on display in a national gallery or museum where everyone can enjoy it."

The drawing is similar in character to four other early figure drawings by Michelangelo, all of which are in museum collections, in Paris, Munich, Vienna and London.

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