Leonardo da Vinci, 1452-1519, Head of a Bear
Pre-sale estimate £8,000,000-12,000,000
©Christie’s Images 2021
LONDON – Leonardo da Vinci’s Head of a Bear, offered as the leading lot in the Exceptional Sale held this evening at Christie’s London, realised £8,857,500 against a presale estimate of £8,000,000-12,000,000. The result sets a new world record for a drawing by the artist. The previous record for a drawing by Leonardo da Vinci offered at auction was the Horse and Rider, also sold at Christie’s in 2001 for £8,143,750 ($11,481,865).
This penetrating study of a bear’s head, one of less than eight surviving drawings by Leonardo still in private hands outside of the British Royal Collection and the Devonshire Collections at Chatsworth, and measuring 2 ¾ x 2 ¾ inches (7 x 7 cm), is executed in silverpoint on a pale pink-beige prepared paper, a technique which Leonardo was taught by his master Andrea del Verrocchio.
Stijn Alsteens, International Head of Department, Old Master Drawings, Christie’s comments, ‘Christie’s is greatly honoured to have brought this small but magnificent Old Master Drawing to the market in the Exceptional Sale this evening in London. The drawing attracted attention from all around the world, and I was confident that the great quality and rarity of the work would lead to an exceptional result – the fifth highest price ever achieved for an Old Master Drawing at auction’.
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