Drawing Of A Male Nude By Michelangelo at Christies on the 24th

A
male nude by Micehlangelo is the highlight of the Old Master
and 19th Century Drawings auction at Christies, New York on
January 24, 2006 at 11am.

Expected to realize in the region of $4 million, this black
chalk drawing has appeared on the open market only once before.
Formerly part of the famous collection formed by John Malcolm
of Poltalloch (1805-93), it was one of a group of important
drawings given by him to his on-in-law Alfred Gathorne-Hardy.
On Malcolm’s death the greater part of the collection was
bought by the British Museum, but this drawing remained with
the family. It reappeared for sale only in 1976, when it was
bought by the current owner, a private collector, for £178,200,
setting a new world auction record for an Old Master Drawing.

Noël Annesley, Honorary Chairman, Christie’s International
(UK) Ltd. notes “ The searching and sensitive chalk strokes
of this powerful drawing epitomize Michelangelo’s lifelong
preoccupation with the expressive possibilities of the male
nude.”

Male torso is one of a small number of very late drawings by
the artist which seem to relate to the figure of Christ for
a Pietà composition, although no commission of this type
is recorded. As with the similarly late series of drawings of
the Crucifixion, this drawing may simply be the ageing artist
musing on his own mortality, a mood reflected in his famous
mystical poems of the same period. The monumental proportions
of the figure suggest that it is the summation of a lifetime’s
study of the human form rather than a drawing from a studio
model.
Dating from the 1550s, while the artist was working on the completion
of St. Peter’s, this study miraculously survived Michelangelo’s
determined destruction of his own drawings. The letters of his
contemporaries are full of references to bonfires in which his
sketches were destroyed, although his motives for this seeming
vandalism are disputed. His biographer Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574)
suggested he was afraid that the intensity of his creative struggles
would be revealed through scrutiny of his working drawings,
but he may simply have been paranoid that his legendary inventiveness
would swiftly be copied by unscrupulous fellow artists. Whatever
the reason, of the tens of thousands of drawings that he must
have produced over a productive career spanning seven decades
only a little more than 600 survive; and the overwhelming majority
of these have long been in the great public collections of Europe.

Christie’s holds regular sales of Old Master Drawings
in London, New York and Paris, and holds the majority share
of the international market. The following are the top 3 prices
realized for Old Master Drawings at auction, all achieved at
Christie’s:

1. 4th July 2000 Michelangelo, The Risen Christ, Christie’s
London $12,305,206
World Record Price for an Old Master Drawing at Auction

2. 10th July 2001 Leonardo da Vinci, Horse and Rider, Christie’s
London $11,474,543
World Auction Record for a Drawing by Leonardo

3. 5th July 2005 Andrea del Sarto, Saint Joseph, Christie’s
London $11,395,008< br>
World Auction Record for a Drawing by del Sarto

For more details visit the Christies
web site.


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