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Botticelli drawing Study for a Seated St Joseph sells for record $2 million at London auction

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A rare Botticelli drawing – titled Study for a Seated St Joseph, his head resting on his right hand – has sold for a record £1.3 million ($2.1 million) at Sotheby’s auction in London.

Created in the 1480s, the piece was the first drawing by the artist to be sold for a century.


Sotheby’s said it was highest price ever paid for a work on paper by the Renaissance master.

Botticelli’s Study for a Seated St Joseph, his head resting on his right hand has sold for a record $2.1 million at Sotheby’s auction in London

Botticelli’s Study for a Seated St Joseph, his head resting on his right hand has sold for a record $2.1 million at Sotheby’s auction in London (photo Sotheby’s)

The work was also believed to be the last of his drawings that remained in private hands.

The drawing came from the collection of late philanthropist Barbara Piasecka Johnson, the wife of Johnson and Johnson heir John Seward Johnson, who bought the artwork for $88,000 at a New York auction in 1988.

Study for a Seated St Joseph is believed to be the only drawing which can be clearly linked to one of Sandro Botticelli’s painted compositions.

The man depicted is a study for The Nativity with adoring St John the Baptist – a circular painting dating from the late 1480s which is at Buscot Park near Faringdon, Oxfordshire.

Aside from an album of illustrations for Dante’s Divine Comedy, there are only 12 surviving drawings by Botticelli – all but Study for a Seated St Joseph are in museums.