Tiny Bear Sketch by Leonardo Da Vinci Sells for Record $12.2 Million

A tiny sketch of a bear’s head by Italian Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci sold for a record $12.2 million at a London auction on July 8.

Measuring less than eight square inches, the drawing titled “Head of a Bear” surpassed the auction record sold for a da Vinci drawing, previously set by the “Horse and Rider,” which sold for over $11.2 million in 2001.

According to auction house Christie’s, the sketch is one of eight da Vinci drawings left in private hands.

“The work is a precious example of Leonardo’s scientific interest, sensitivity to the natural world, exceptional gifts of observation, and unmatched mastery as a draughtsman,” Christie’s said.

The auction house did not reveal the identity of the buyers.

The sketch was initially expected to fetch up to $16.82 million.

The sketch was created on a pale pink-beige paper using silverpoint, Laetitia Mason, an old master drawings expert at Christie’s, described  as “a very difficult technique, because it doesn’t really admit any mistake.”

The technique involves the use of thin silver rods or wire to make marks on a chemically prepared paper.

The sketch has been featured at major institutions including the National Gallery in London in 2011 and Ste. Petersburg’s State Hermitage Museum. It was previously owned by British painter Sir Thomas Lawrence and art collector Captain Norman Robert Colville.


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