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Art | Leonardo da Vinci
Value Soars for Leonardo da Vinci Drawing After ‘Salvator Mundi’
by Scott Reyburn
Published November 09, 2018
Drawing: A rediscovered two-sided drawing by Leonardo da Vinci that the Paris auction house Tajan will be offering for public sale on June 19, 2019.
The Paris auction house Tajan will offer a rediscovered drawing by Leonardo da Vinci at public sale on June 19, for the first time, testing the market for a work by the Renaissance master after the extraordinary sale of “Salvator Mundi” last year. The sale will come almost 500 years after da Vinci died, in May 1519, at Amboise, France. > Article
Tajan is hoping to achieve a price between 30 million euros and 60 million for the 1492 drawing, or about $34 million to $68 million, said Rodica Seward, chairman of the auction house.
The double-sided artwork was rediscovered in March 2016 in a private French collection by Thaddée Prate, an old master specialist at Tajan. One side features a vigorous pen and ink drawing of Saint Sebastian tied to a tree, the other inscribed scientific studies of candle light, also in pen and ink.
“The attribution of the St. Sebastian drawing to Leonardo is absolutely solid,” said Carmen Bambach, curator of prints and drawings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, in an email. “The inscription fits perfectly well with his manuscripts and style of handwriting, and the drawing of the saint is complementary to other drawings of the subject that are already known,” added Ms. Bambach, who is writing a scholarly article on the studies.
In 2016, Tajan valued the discovery at 15 million euros, or about $15.8 million, reflecting what was then the high of $11.5 million achieved for a Leonardo drawing in 2010, according to the Artnet price database.
But in November 2017 values for Leonardo’s works had to be completely reassessed, following the extraordinary $450.3 million bid at Christie’s for a much-restored panel painting of “Salvator Mundi” cataloged as a long-lost Leonardo. The price, paid by the Saudi royal family on behalf of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, was a high for any work of art ever offered at auction.
“It excited interest and raised expectations,” said Ms. Seward. She added that after the “Salvator Mundi” sale “two or three” potential foreign buyers contacted the auction house, suggesting they were willing to pay more than 15 million euros for the Leonardo drawing.
Ms. Seward said the drawing had been certified as a “national treasure,” prohibiting its export for 30 months, during which time the French state could purchase the drawing at the international market price. But how can the price of a rare Leonardo work be accurately determined in the aftermath of the $450 million “Salvator Mundi?”
After consulting with her client and Jean-Luc Martinez, director of the Louvre, Ms. Seward said that Tajan had decided to offer the drawing at public auction to determine its “real market value.”
Once the hammer has fallen, if a major French museum such as the Louvre doesn’t step in, the drawing could be exported at the end of June, when the 30-month “national treasure” certification ends, Ms. Seward added. Neither the Louvre, nor France’s Ministry of Culture responded to requests for comment.
Beginning Oct. 24, through Feb. 24, the Louvre will be holding what it calls “an unprecedented exhibition” dedicated to Leonardo da Vinci on the 500th anniversary of his death.
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December 15th 2017
After 19 minutes of dueling, with four bidders on the telephone and one in the room, Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” sold on Wednesday night for $450.3 million with fees, shattering the high for any work of art sold at auction. It far surpassed Picasso’s “Women of Algiers,” which fetched $179.4 million at Christie’s in May 2015. The buyer was not immediately disclosed.
Leonardo da Vinci
Based on thousands of pages from Leonardo da Vinci’s astonishing notebooks and new discoveries about his life and work, Walter Isaacson “deftly reveals an intimate Leonardo” (San Francisco Chronicle) in a narrative that connects his art to his science. He shows how Leonardo’s genius was based on skills we can improve in ourselves, such as passionate curiosity, careful observation, and an imagination so playful that it flirted with fantasy.
He produced the two most famous paintings in history, The Last Supper and the Mona Lisa. With a passion that sometimes became obsessive, he pursued innovative studies of anatomy, fossils, birds, the heart, flying machines, botany, geology, and weaponry. He explored the math of optics, showed how light rays strike the cornea, and produced illusions of changing perspectives in The Last Supper. His ability to stand at the crossroads of the humanities and the sciences, made iconic by his drawing of Vitruvian Man, made him history’s most creative genius.
In the “luminous” (Daily Beast) Leonardo da Vinci, Isaacson describes how Leonardo’s delight at combining diverse passions remains the ultimate recipe for creativity. So, too, does his ease at being a bit of a misfit: illegitimate, gay, vegetarian, left-handed, easily distracted, and at times heretical. His life should remind us of the importance to be imaginative and, like talented rebels in any era, to think different. Here, da Vinci “comes to life in all his remarkable brilliance and oddity in Walter Isaacson’s ambitious new biography…a vigorous, insightful portrait” (The Washington Post).