• A drawing attributed to Michelangelo in 2019 was auctioned on Wednesday and sold for the sum of 23 million euros.

  • The work represents the artist's first nude, done in pen and brown ink.

  • It is one of the few drawings that were not destroyed by Michelangelo, who wanted to preserve his final creations from the imperfection of the sketches.

Since the 15th century, this drawing made in brown ink by the brilliant artist Michelangelo Buonarroti had passed under the radar of specialists.

However, it had already been sold in 1907 at the Hôtel Drouot in Paris, when it was classified as the “School of Michelangelo”.

It was only in 2019, on the occasion of an auction in Paris, that the work resurfaced thanks to the intervention of Paul Joannides, professor emeritus of art history at the university of Cambridge.

As soon as the announcement is made, the drawing is assigned the classification of “national treasure”, preventing the work from leaving the national territory for a period of thirty months.

During this period, the State grants itself the right to acquire the property, a kind of "Wait, me first", for the National Treasures Advisory Commission.

Despite this intervention, no French museum will disburse the tens of millions of euros claimed for the purchase of the work.

But why so expensive?

Thirty months have passed, and Christie's Paris, freed from this constraint, was able to auction the drawing.

Twenty-three million euros is the sum that was paid by the buyer to be awarded this somewhat special work.

This would be the first nude study found by the artist.

In the 1490s, the young Michelangelo was inspired by the fresco

The Baptism of the Neophytes

by the painter Masaccio and depicted a naked man, surrounded by two other characters.

The sketch presents a particularity vis-à-vis the others that “Il Divino” (the divine) was able to produce during his life: it still exists today.

Methodically, Michelangelo burned his papers to leave no trace of his imperfections, leaving little hope for idealists to find any in grandmother's attic... Be that as it may, rarity being the price, he only took one hour at auction to sell the drawing.


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