Lost drawing by Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci was discovered among the papers of a doctor from the French provinces, announced the Parisian auction house “Tajan“. Blurred sensual sketch of Saint Sebastian is an extraordinary discovery and it is worth about €15 million, said “Tajan”.
The authenticity was confirmed by the French specialist Patrick de Bayser and Carmen C. Bambach, curator of Renaissance drawings at New York’s Metropolitan Museum and a Da Vinci expert. It is believed that Leonardo drew a sketch of Saint Sebastian in his late twenties or early thirties.
The discovery is extremely rare. Last Da Vinci drawing that has reached the market, drawing of rider and horse, was sold 15 years ago for $10 million. Then it was said that it was Leonardo’s most significant work that appeared at auction back 70 years.
De Bayser said he came across the sketch, done with a quill pen, during a routine trawl through material sent to the auction house for valuation.
First he thought that the author is a Florentine artist of the 15th century, and then on the back he noticed the text written so that it can be read only in the mirror, which was a technique that Leonardo regularly served. Then, he noticed that the shading in the drawing of Saint Sebastian, which showed the martyr with wild hair pinned to a tree trunk, went from right to left. That meant that it was drawn by a left-handed artist, like Da Vinci.
Da Vinci drew eight sketchs of Saint Sebastian, and two have been preserved to this day. One is kept at the Bonnat-Helleu Museum in Bayonne in southwestern France and the other at the Kunsthalle in Hamburg.
Bambach believes the newly discovered sketch came from the same period as the Hamburg drawing, from between 1478 and 1483.
The owner of the 19.3 x 13 cm (7.6 x 5 ins) sketch wants to remain anonymous, the auction house said.