Leonardo’s bear sold at auction: 12 million British pounds for a 7-centimeter drawing

LONDON – England has a special tie with Leonardo Da Vinci: the British Royal Collection, property of Queen Elizabeth, owns between the castle of Windsor and Buckingham Palace the greatest collection of works of the Renaissance’s genius. But it comes from another English collector, moreover yearning to remain anonymous, the tiny drawing of Leonardo, hardly 7 centimeters by 7, representing the head of a bear, that July 8 will be offered for sale by Christie’s, the famous London’s auction house, with a starting price estimated between 8 and 12 millions British pounds.

The goal is to establish the new world record for a drawing by the great Florentine artist, currently held by its Horse and horseman, sold at auction twenty years ago by Christie’s, to the tune of 8 million pounds. The groundbreaking study of the head of the bear was executed with a silver tip on a pale pink paper, with a technique taught to Leonardo by his master Andrea del Verrocchio. It is related to three similar studies of animals on small scale, two cats and dog, guarded at the London’s British Museum; a double-sided sheet with studies on the legs of a dog, stored at the National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh; and the study of a walking bear, belonging to the Lehman collection at the New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. They’re all datable to the first half of the Eighties of the 1400’s. The snout of the bear remembers in some way a detail of another work of Leonardo, the ermine in the portrait of Cecilia Gallerani titled Dame with an Ermine, now at the Krakow’s Museum.

Currently exposed to the public at the Christie’s site at the Rockefeller Center of New York, the drawing will then be transferred to the Hong Kong’s site from May 20 to 25, to arrive eventually at London, where it will be visible from June 1 to 6: an international tour that testifies the huge interest for a Leonardo-esque work, an event that rarely happens and that could trigger a spasmodic race to the upside to win it.

The bear’s head has passed from hand to hand many times since Leonardo drew it five centuries ago. The first verified property is traced back to sir Thomas Lawrence, famous British painter, holder of one of the greatest collections of ancient masters’ drawings. After his death, in 1830, the drawing ended up in possession of his art dealer and main creditor Samuel Woodburn, which thirty years later sold it to Christie at a very different price from the current quotation: just 2 pounds and a half. In the first half of the 1900’s, it belonged to another great British collector, captain Norman Robert Colville, also owner of the Head of a Muse drawn by Raffaello, which went on to be sold by Christie’s, in 2009, for 29 million pounds.

Continue reading

Buy the site's staff a coffee or more with PayPal

or Bitcoin

Personal Info

Donation Total: $5

Leave a Reply