A study of a bear by Leonardo da Vinci is poised to break the artist’s auction record for a single drawing. The work, titled Head of a Bear, will be offered in the Exceptional Sale at Christie’s in London on July 8, with an estimate of $11.2 million to $16.9 million.
Measuring approximately 8 square inches, the drawing is part of a series of small-scale studies of animals that the famous polymath executed around 1480. Da Vinci produced Head of a Bear on paper using a silverpoint, depicting the carnivore with a gentle gaze. The work is one of only eight known da Vinci drawings still in private hands, not counting those owned by the British Royal Collection and the Devonshire Collections at Chatsworth.
Ben Hall, chairman of Old Master paintings at Christie’s in New York, said in a statement that the drawing has been owned by “some of the most distinguished collectors in the field of Old Masters across many centuries, not least the present owner who has owned it since 2008.”
The work was once held in the collection of Sir Thomas Lawrence, a British painter from the Georgian period known for his significant holdings of Old Master drawings. It has previously been displayed at museums including the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow, and the National Gallery in London. The drawing will be exhibited in New York and Hong Kong before hitting the block later this summer.
“After having sold Leonardo da Vinci’s drawing Horse and Rider in 2001 for over £8m ($11m), still the world record for a drawing by the artist today, Christie’s is proud to offer another work by arguably the greatest draughtsman the world has ever known,” Stijn Alsteens, international head of the Old Masters drawings department at Christie’s in Paris, said in a statement. “I have every reason to believe we will achieve a new record in July for Head of a Bear.”