Raphael Drawing Expected to Sell for Up to $24M

A major drawing by Italian Renaissance artist Raphael will go on sale in December with an estimated price between 10 million and 15 million pounds ($16 million and $24 million), auction house Sotheby's said on Tuesday.

The 16th-century "Head of an Apostle" is a study for the Raphael's last painting, "Transfiguration", which is on display at the Vatican Museum in Rome. Measuring roughly 15 inches by 11 inches (38 cm by 28 cm), the picture was drawn in black chalk.

Only two other Raphael drawings of the same calibre have been auctioned off in the last 50 years, Sotheby's said. In 2009, Raphael's black chalk "Head of a Muse" sold for 29.2 million pounds at Christie's London.

Currently part of the Devonshire Collection at Chatsworth, the "Head of an Apostle" is one of the greatest drawings by Raphael to remain in private hands, said Sotheby's. It is now on show at the Prado Museum in Madrid as part of an exhibit of late Raphael works.

Also up for auction on Dec. 5 in London are two decorated manuscripts from the late Middle Ages, also from the Devonshire Collection. One is estimated at 4-6 million pounds, the other at 3-5 million pounds and both are well-preserved, Sotheby's said.

Produced in the Flanders, the 15th-century illuminated manuscripts feature pictures of battles, castles and knights.