One of the last great paintings by Raphael still in private hands is to be sold at Christie's next month with a guide price of up to £15 million.
The portrait of Lorenzo de Medici, scion of the wealthy but cruel dynasty that dominated Florence from the 14th century to the 17th century, is the most important work by Raphael, an Italian Old Master, to be sold at auction for decades.
Lorenzo ruled Florence from 1513 until his death in 1519. His uncle, Pope Leo X, had found him a wife - Madeleine de la Tour d'Auvergne, a cousin of Francois I, King of France - who was an ally of the Vatican against the Holy Roman Empire.
As the couple had never met, an exchange of portraits was arranged. Raphael, one of the greatest High Renaissance painters and then working for Leo X in Rome, was commissioned to show Lorenzo, then aged 25, in his best light.
The portrait shows the subject in a fur-necked red and gold cape.
It must have done the trick because the couple were married in 1518.
The portrait, which is owned by an American art dealer, has not been seen in public for 40 years. It will be sold at Christie's in London on July 5.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Blind Date Raphael for Sale
From the Telegraph: