Tiny Da Vinci Expected To Fetch Over $16.5 Million

Topline

A small drawing by Leonardo da Vinci, one of a very limited number of drawings by da Vinci still privately owned, is expected to sell for between $11 million and $16.5 million, not including fees, when it’s auctioned on Thursday, according to Christie’s auction house.

Key Facts

The drawing, known as “Head of a Bear,” measures just 2.75 by 2.75 inches in size.

It was created using silverpoint (a thin, silver stylus on a sheet of pale prepared paper) and is believed to date back to da Vinci’s Florentine period in the early 1480s.

The drawing has a “distinguished provenance,” having been previously owned by British painter and collector Sir Thomas Lawrence.

Key Background:

The last drawing by da Vinci to come to auction was “Horse and Rider” in 2001. It sold for $11.2 million, also at Christie’s, the highest recorded price for a silverpoint work by the artist. After Lawrence’s death, “Head of Bear” was passed to his dealer, Samuel Woodburn, who sold it at Christie’s. By the early 1900s, Captain Norman Robert Colville (who also purchased Raphael’s “Head of a Muse” for more than $40 million) had acquired the drawing. It was exhibited publicly for the first time in 1936 at the Burlington Fine Arts Club in London. 

Surprising Fact: 

“Head of a Bear” was initially sold at Christie’s in 1860 for only 2.50 pounds (or $3.40), according to the auction house.

Crucial Quote: 

The drawing is an “exquisite demonstration of Leonardo da Vinci’s unsurpassed mastery as a draughtsman and of his ground-breaking attitude towards the study of nature,” Christie’s said in a statement.

Big Number:

$450 million. That was the sale price for da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” painting at Christie’s in November 2017, making it the most expensive work of art ever sold at auction. 

Further Reading:

Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Salvator Mundi’ painting sells for record $450M (NBC)

Leonardo’s Head of a Bear and the ermine it inspired a decade later (Christie’s)

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