Black chalk drawing by Raphael sells for 29.7m after sparking 17-minute bidding war at auctionRaphael drawing sells for record price as world's biggest art collectors fought to buy itThe piece was part of a collection at the Duke of Devonshire’s Chatsworth House It helped Raphael prepare to paint Transfiguration, a world-renowned work of art

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UPDATED:

19:06 GMT, 6 December 2012

A drawing by Italian artist Raphael has fetched a record 29 million at auction – more than twice the original estimate.

The black chalk piece, called Head Of A Young Apostle, became the most expensive work on paper after it sold for almost three times its estimated price at auction, auction house Sotheby’s said.

It had been part of a collection at the Duke of Devonshire’s Chatsworth House stately home in Derbyshire since the 1700s.

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Record-breaking: The Raphael drawing, called Head of a Young Apostle, which sold for a record 29.7 million at auction.

Record-breaking: The Raphael drawing, called Head of a Young Apostle, which sold for a record 29.7 million at auction.

Renowned: Head Of A Young Apostle was a preparatory work for one of Raphael's best known pieces, Transfiguration

Renowned: Head Of A Young Apostle was a preparatory work for one of Raphael's best known pieces, Transfiguration

Originally believed to be worth 10 to 15 million, the artwork sold for 29.7 million after an intense battle between four bidders lasting 17 minutes.

After the winning bid came in over the telephone, Sotheby’s London auction room erupted in a round of applause.

Gregory Rubinstein, worldwide head of Old Master drawings at Sotheby’s, said: 'If you are lucky, at some point in your career a work like this comes along.

'A number of the world’s greatest collectors stepped up tonight in recognition of the genius of Raphael and the extraordinary beauty of this drawing with its exceptional provenance.'

The work, known as an auxiliary cartoon and dated to around 1519 to 1520, was a preparation drawing for a figure in Raphael’s Transfiguration.

The final price of 29.7 million includes Sotheby’s commission, known as buyer’s premium.

Prestigious: The drawing had been part of a collection at the Duke of Devonshires Chatsworth House in Derbyshire since the 1700s

Prestigious: The drawing had been part of a collection at the Duke of
Devonshire's Chatsworth House

When Raphael died, his body was laid out in state in his studio with the Transfiguration hanging at his head. It is now in the Vatican Museum.

According to Sotheby's, Head of a
Young Apostle is one of just three Raphael drawings of this calibre to
have have appeared at auction in the last 50 years – each of which set
an all-time record for an 'Old Master Drawing' when they were sold.

Cristiana Romalli, senior director in
the Department of Old Master Drawings at Sotheby’s, said: 'This very
moving study is a paramount example of Raphael’s draughtsmanship – and
shows exactly why he is revered as very possibly the greatest master of
drawing who has ever lived. T

'The sheer beauty of this work is
utterly breath-taking – and the way in which it allows us to join
Raphael as he created his last great masterpiece is hugely exciting.'

The auction sold off work by the 'Old Masters' – European painters of skill who worked before about 1800 – and British paintings.

Other sales included Jan Havicksz. Steen’s The Prayer Before the Meal, from the collection at Sudeley Castle, which sold for a 5,641,250, and four extremely rare 14th-century paintings by the Florentine artist Niccol di Pietro Gerini, depicting Scenes from the Passion of Christ, which sold for 1,105,250.

Alex Bell, co-chairman of Sotheby's
Old Master Paintings Worldwide, said yesterday: 'Tonight’s sale was a great way to
end what has been a fantastic year for Sotheby’s – from the
record-breaking sale of The Scream, to tonight’s landmark sale of the
exceptional Raphael drawing from the Devonshire Collection.

'While that of course was the
undoubted highlight of the evening, the rest of the sale also
demonstrated depth and strength in this market which has benefitted in
recent years from
an influx of buyers from new geographic areas, and collectors who have previously been active in other fields.'

HOW RAPHAEL BECAME KNOWN AS A MASTER OF THE RENAISSANCE

Raphael is widely regarded as the world's supreme painter, and for most of the last 450 years has also been the world's most expensive.

In 1494, Raphael took over his dead father's painting workshop in Urbino, Italy, with rapid success.

As a teen, he was commissioned to paint for the Church of San Nicola in the neighboring town of Castello.

In 1500, he became apprentice to master painter Pietro Vannunci, otherwise known as Perugino, in the Umbria region of central Italy.

The apprenticeship lasted four years and Raphael developed his own unique style, producing works such as The Three Graces, The Knight’s Dream and the Marriage of the Virgin.

He then left his apprenticeship with Perugino and moved to Florence, where he was influenced by the works of the Italian painters Fra Bartolommeo, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Masaccio.

In 1508, he moved to Rome and began painting in the Vatican under Pope Julius II’s patronage – commencing the most prolific and well-known era in his career.

Masterpiece: Christ's Charge to Peter is a renowned work by Raphael dated 1515 to 1516

Masterpiece: Christ's Charge to Peter is a renowned work by Raphael dated 1515 to 1516

VIDEO: Raphael's The Head of a Young Apostle:

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