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Friday, 16 March, 2001, 14:20 GMT
Appeal to save Michelangelo
Study of a Woman Draped in Mourning Clothes by Michelangelo
The sketch may have been bought in 1747
The National Galleries of Scotland have launched an appear to help prevent a Michelangelo drawing worth 7.5m from being sold to a private collector or abroad.

The three-quarter length drawing in pen and brown ink is called Study of a Mourning Woman and it was found last year in the library at Castle Howard, North Yorkshire.

The most significant Michelangelo find in living memory - like finding part of the Holy Grail

James Miller, Sothebys
The sketch is said to date from between 1494 and 1504 and is regarded as a major work by one of the greatest artistic geniuses in history.

"We feel it is vital that this drawing goes on public display," said a spokeswoman for the National Galleries of Scotland, launching the appeal.


The National Arts Collection Fund has pledged the first 500,000.

The cost of insuring such a valuable work made it impossible to keep the drawing at Castle Howard, which was the setting for the TV series Brideshead Revisited.

Simon Howard, who owns Castle Howard said: "Clearly this is a drawing of major importance which has been accepted by all the experts and as such it should be on display in a national gallery or museum where everyone can enjoy it."

Castle Howard has already sold three other paintings from its collection to the National Gallery of Scotland.

Sistine Chapel, The Vatican, Rome
A detail from the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican
The drawing is similar to four other early figure drawings by the artist which are in museum collections in Paris, Munich, Vienna and London.

It is dated later than the others and is seen as an important link between them and Michelangelo's later work.

The drawing's discovery in October was described by auctioneers Sotheby's as "the most significant Michelangelo find in living memory; like finding part of the Holy Grail".

It was a Sotheby's expert, Julien Stock, who chanced on it while flicking through a scrapbook of Old Master drawings for an insurance evaluation.

Michelangelo was a leading figure in the High Renaissanace and painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome as well as sculpting such works as David.

Unless significant funds are raised in the coming weeks the drawing will almost certainly leave the country.

See also:

11 Dec 99 | Europe
Sistine Chapel restored
11 Dec 99 | Europe
In pictures: Sistine glory
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