Peter Paul Rubens’s drawing Nude Study of Young Man with Raised Arms (1608) sold for $8.2 million on Wednesday at a an Old Masters drawings auction at Sotheby’s in New York. The piece blew past its high estimate of $3.5 million, and it has now set a record for a Rubens drawing at auction.
Rubens created the piece in Italy while he was working on one of his best-known works, an altarpiece titled The Raising of the Cross. In a statement, Gregory Rubenstein, the head of Sotheby’s Old Masters drawings department, said of the work, “Created at such an important moment in the artist’s life, there was a real sense of immediacy to this drawing—a sense of looking over the artist’s shoulder as he works.”
Since the 19th century, the piece has been owned by the family of King William II of the Netherlands. (A representative for the auction house declined to name the seller of the work.) The drawing was auctioned today to a buyer who remained unidentified by the Sotheby’s.
While Nude Study of Young Man with Raised Arms has set a new record for a Rubens drawing, it is far from the most expensive work by the artist. In 2016, Rubens’s painting Lot and His Daughters (ca. 1613–14) sold for £44.8 million (around $58.1 million at the time) at a Christie’s sale in London, setting a record for an Old Masters work at auction.