Da Vinci Discovered in Paris

Several news outlets reported earlier this week on the discovery of a drawing by famed artist Leonardo da Vinci at the French auction house Tajan. Part of a loose folio of drawings owned by a retired physician, the double-sided drawing depicts Saint Sebastian on the recto while the verso reveals several shadow studies. 

The attribution of the sheet involved the expertise of some of the world’s leading figures on Old Master drawings, among them: Thaddée Prate, Tajan’s Director of Old Master works; Patrick de Bayser, an independent expert; and Carmen C. Bambach, Curator of Italian and Spanish Drawings at the Metropolitan Museum of New York. According to The New York Times, Bambach was overjoyed at the find, the first work by Leonardo to be discovered in the last 15 years:  

“ ‘My eyes jumped out of their sockets,’ Dr. Bambach said in a telephone interview, remembering her first sight of the drawing in Paris with Mr. de Bayser on the last day of March. ‘It exactly complemented the Hamburg St. Sebastian,’ she added, referring to how that pen-and-ink study of the saint tied to a tree also included inscribed optical studies on the reverse side, and to how the handwriting of the inscription was consistent in both double-sided drawings.”

The double-drawing has been given an estimated value of €15-€16 million. 

Further Reading: 
Scott Rayburn, “An Artistic Discovery Makes a Curator’s Heard Pound” (The New York Times, 11 December 2016). 

Victoria Stapley-Brown, “Heart-pounding discovery of rare Leonardo da Vinci drawing” (The Art Newspaper, 12 December 2016). 

Images of verso (courtesy of The New York Times) and recto drawings (courtesy of The Art Newspaper). 

Posted by Alexis Culotta 

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