On July 8, 2021, a work by the most famous Italian Renaissance painter, scientist, and architect of the 15th century, Leonardo da Vinci, was put up for auction at Christie's. A small sketch measuring 7x7 cm was titled "Head of a Bear" and was done in silver pencil on a pink and beige hue paper. It is assumed that he was part of a larger image.

According to The New York Times, the sketch was bought at the only bid by an unknown buyer in the auction room for a record for the work of this painter $12.2 million. There was no competition from telephone or Internet bidders.

About it said in a message of the auction Christie's in Twitter.

"The drawing is an exquisite testament to Leonardo da Vinci's unparalleled skill as an artist," the statement noted. "Head of a Bear" is one of eight sketches by the artist that has remained in private hands. Experts disagree on the dating but are unanimous in their assessment of the significance of the drawing, made with a silver needle on paper.

Leonardo da Vinci's previous work sold for a record sum was The Horse and Rider. It was bought in 2001 at Christie's auction for $11.1 million, as Artnet News noted.

Also coming up for auction will be handwritten notes by Isaac Newton for the second edition of his masterpiece Principles of Mathematics. This work outlines the laws of universal gravitation and how we are affected by the forces of nature.

The lot, which is a page and a half historical manuscript, is notable because Newton's last such manuscript was presented at auction 20 years ago and consisted of 2 lines. The value of the manuscript is estimated at 1 million 200 thousand dollars.

Opinion of experts

Art historians associate the "Head of a Bear" with three other drawings of animals made from life.

It is generally accepted that they were all part of a collection of one or more sketchbooks, where Leonardo da Vinci recorded various poses of animals, which he then used to work on full-fledged paintings. The Italian master sketched on pieces of paper sketches of a walking bear, cats, and dogs.

To date, there is no confirmation that Da Vinci painted the bear in any of his paintings. There is, however, the possibility that he used a sketch of the bear's head and the dog's paws to work on the Ermine he depicted in his famous portrait of Cecilia Gallerani, "The Lady with the Ermine" (1489).

History of Drawing

The image is prized for its precise and labor-intensive technique, which Leonardo was taught by the Florentine artist Andrea del Verrocchio (1435-1488).

According to experts, Leonardo made this drawing in the early 1480s, presumably before moving from Florence to Milan around 1482.

The history of ownership of the drawing can be traced back to the 18th century, beginning in the London collection of Sir Thomas Lawrence, president of the Royal Academy of Arts. In 1860 Lawrence's executor sold the drawing at Christie's.

Before Leonardo da Vinci's drawing was sold, it was shown in Hong Kong and New York. It was in a private collection whose owner bought The Bear's Head 13 years ago. Since the 1930s, the Bear Head drawing has been a participant in Leonardo da Vinci's retrospective exhibitions. In 2018-2019, the drawing was shown as part of American stock investor Thomas Kaplan's Masterpieces of the Leiden Collection exhibition.