Information about Art, Antiques and Auctions in Ireland and around the world
  • About Des
  • Contact
  • Posts Tagged ‘Leonardo da Vinci’


    Thursday, July 8th, 2021

    This small drawing of a bear’s head by Leonardo da Vinci at Christie’s Exceptional Sale in London today is estimated at £8-12 million. It measures just 7x7cm and is among just a few drawings by the Italian Renaissance master which are still privately owned. The sketch previously belonged to British painter and collector Sir Thomas Lawrence, before being sold at Christie’s in 1860 for £2.50. It is one of fewer than eight surviving drawings by the artist still in private hands outside the Royal Collection and the Devonshire Collections at Chatsworth. UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR £8,857,500, A NEW WORLD RECORD FOR A DRAWING BY THE ARTIST.

    (See post on for May 8, 2021)


    Saturday, May 8th, 2021

    Leonardo da Vinci’s Head of a Bear will highlight the Exceptional Sale Christie’s in London on July 8.  This penetrating study of a bear’s head is one of less than eight surviving drawings by Leonardo in private hands outside the British Royal Collection and the Devonshire Collections at Chatsworth. Measuring 2 ¾ x 2 ¾ inches (7 x 7 cm) it is executed in silverpoint on a pale pink-beige prepared paper, a technique which Leonardo was taught by his master Andrea del Verrocchio. The drawing will be on public exhibition at Christie’s in Rockefeller Centre in New York from May 8 and at Christie’s Hong Kong from May 20 – 25. It will be on view in London June from 1 – 6. It is expected to sell for £8,000,000-12,000,000.

    The drawing’s distinguished history can be traced back to Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830), the renowned British painter whose collection of old master drawings is considered among the greatest ever assembled. After Lawrence’s death in 1830, the drawing passed to his dealer (and major creditor) Samuel Woodburn, who sold it at Christie’s in 1860 for £2.50. In the first half of the twentieth century, the drawing was in the collection of another great British collector, Captain Norman Robert Colville, who also owned Head of a Muse by Raphael which sold for £29,161,250 at Christie’s in 2009.

    Since its first public exhibition in 1937, it has also been shown at museums around the world including the London National Gallery’s Leonardo da Vinci exhibition in 2011-12, Louvre Abu Dhabi; Moscow, Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts and Saint Petersburg, State Hermitage Museum in 2018*.

    The medium connects this sheet to three similar small-scale studies of animals, a study of two cats and a dog in the British Museum, its companion double-sided sheet with studies of a dog’s paws in the National Galleries of Scotland, and a study of a walking bear in the Lehman Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The studies can all be dated to the first half of the 1480’s.

    The face of the bear is very close to the ermine in Leonardo’s portrait of Cecilia Gallerani or Lady with an Ermine now in the Krakow Museum.

    Leonardo da Vinci,1452-1519, Head of a Bear


    Friday, May 3rd, 2019

    Leonardo da Vinci’s Leda and the Swan – one of the jewels of the famed Devonshire Collection – is to be included at Sotheby’s Treasures from Chatsworth exhibition in New York this summer.

    Created by Leonardo c1506 in Florence or Milan circa1506 – while he was working on the Mona Lisa – Leda and the Swan is a mythological preparatory drawing in pen, ink and wash. The work represents one of Da Vinci’s earliest designs for a composition of Leda, wife of the King of Sparta, and Jupiter, who has taken the form of a swan to seduce her. Hatching from the eggs at Leda’s feet are their offspring: the twins, Helen (later Helen of Troy) and Clytemnestra, and Castor and Pollux. The drawing was acquired by the Devonshire collection in the first half of the 18th century. The painting for which the drawing served as a study did not survive.

    More than 40 masterworks have been selected for the Treasures from Chatsworth exhibition to represent the remarkable breadth of the Devonshire Collection – fine art from Rembrandt van Rijn to Lucian Freud, furniture and decorative objects from the 16th century to 21st-century design, and exceptional jewels, costumes, and archive materials commemorating historic occasions. It will run from June 28 to September 18 at Sotheby’s galleries at 1334 York Avenue, New York.

    Da Vini – Leda 001


    Thursday, November 16th, 2017

    Salvator Mundi – painted around 1500.

    That was the night that was at Christie’s in New York. Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi made auction history by selling for $450,312,500 million.  This stellar price totally obliterated any previous world record for the most expensive work of art sold at auction. The depiction of Christ as Saviour of the World had been estimated at $100 million. The price reflects the extreme rarity of paintings by Leonardo.  Fewer than 20 in existence are acknowledged as being from the artist’s own hand, and all apart from Salvator Mundi  are in museum collections.

    The inclusion of Salvator Mundi  in the landmark London National Gallery 2011-12 exhibition of Leonardo’s surviving paintings — the most complete display of such works ever held — sealed its acceptance as a fully autograph work by Leonardo da Vinci. This came after more than six years of painstaking research and inquiry to document the painting’s authenticity. It was process that began shortly after the work was discovered — heavily veiled with overpaints, long mistaken for a copy — in a small, regional auction in the United States in 2005. Prior to that, it was consigned to a 1958 sale at Sotheby’s where it sold for £45.

    The painting was first recorded in the Royal collection of King Charles I (1600-1649), and thought to have hung in the private chambers of Henrietta Maria – the wife of King Charles I – in her palace in Greenwich, and was later in the collection of Charles II. It was next recorded in a 1763 sale by Charles Herbert Sheffield, the illegitimate son of the Duke of Buckingham, who put it into auction following the sale of what is now Buckingham Palace to the king. It then disappeared until 1900, when it was acquired by Sir Charles Robinson as a work attributed to Leonardo’s follower, Bernardino Luini, for the Cook Collection. By this time, its authorship by Leonardo, origins and illustrious royal history had been forgotten, and Christ’s face and hair had been overpainted and obscured. In the dispersal of the Cook Collection, it was ultimately consigned to a sale at Sotheby’s in 1958 where it sold for £45.

    The previous record for the most expensive work of art at auction was held by Picasso’s Les Femmes d’Alger (Version ‘O’)  which achieved $179,364,992.

    Christie’s Post War and Contemporary art evening sale totalled $785,942,250, including buyers premium. This was the second highest total for a various owner Post War and Contemporary Art evening sale at Christie’s.  There were 14 artists records for, among others, Adam Pendelton, Philippe Parreno, Kerry James Marshall, Vija Celmins, Lee Krasner, Hans Hofmann, William Baziotes, Julian Schnabel and Isamu Noguchi.

    UPDATE:  It was announced in December that the painting is destined for The Louvre in Abu Dhabi which opened its doors on November 8 this year.  It has been suggested that the work will be lent to other museums in the Middle East and Asia.


    Monday, March 7th, 2016

    Ten drawings by Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), on loan from the Royal Collection in Britain, will go on display at the National Gallery of Ireland from May 4 to July 17.  They have been selected to show the extraordinary scope of the artist’s interests, from painting and sculpture to engineering, zoology, botany, mapmaking and anatomy. His use of different media – pen and ink, red and black chalks, watercolour and metalpoint – is well represented.

    This is the only Irish venue for this touring exhibition organised by Royal Collection Trust and supported by Key Capital. The drawings are on show in Newcastle until April 24 and after Dublin they will tour to Nottingham and Swansea.  In May, the National Gallery will provide a public programme of free talks, tours and workshops themed around Leonardo da Vinci – Artist, Inventor, Renaissance Man. Online booking for free tickets will open mid-April through the Gallery’s website.

    Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) Expressions of fury in horses, lions and a man Pen and ink Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2016

    Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519)
    Expressions of fury in horses, lions and a man
    Pen and ink
    Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2016

    Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) A male nude c.1504-5 Red chalk Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2016

    Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519)
    A male nude c.1504-5
    Red chalk
    Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2016



    Thursday, October 6th, 2011

    LEONARDO DA VINCI: Painter at the Court of Milan’ at the National Gallery in London from November 9 is to be the most complete display of Leonardo’s rare surviving paintings ever held. It focuses on his time as court painter to the Sforza rulers of Milan in the 1480’s and ’90’s. The exhibition brings together around 60 drawings and paintings, the largest number of Leonardo’s ever to be lent to a single show.  Even though he is one of the greatest artists who ever lived, this is the first show to focus on Leonardo’s innovations as a painter.

    The exhibition, sponsored by Credit-Suisse, will run from November 9 2011 to February 5, 2012.