A sketch by Renaissance artist Raphael has been discovered in a London home and will be sold at a Sotheby’s auction this summer.
The unsigned drawing, titled “Head Of A Child,” was discovered tucked in a folder of Italian sketches by Cristiana Romalli, a Sotheby’s Old Masters expert. She found it in a folder of minor drawings that had been kept in the back of a drawer at the home.
“The moment I came to the child’s head, I knew it was by Raphael,” Romalli said Thursday. “It was beautifully executed, and the combination of stylus and red chalk spoke to me immediately of Raphael. I was astonished.
“I could hardly believe that a work by so major an artist could really be here, so unexpected, and with no indication whatsoever of any previous attribution.”
Sotheby’s said Thursday that residents of the home may have bought the sketch as collectors in the 19th century, and their descendants probably lost track of its significance.
The Italian painter and architect lived from 1483 to 1520. The newly discovered sketch dates back to about 1505 and was authenticated at the National Gallery, Romalli said. The child’s head was compared to that of the Christ child’s face in Raphael’s “Ansidei Madonna,” which is currently at the gallery, and the two works may be related.
The “Head of a Child” will be sold in London on July 8.