Man Walks Into Auction House With Long-Lost Da Vinci

'An exciting discovery'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 12, 2016 4:36 AM CST
Updated Dec 12, 2016 5:53 AM CST
'Heart-Pounding' Da Vinci Discovery Made
A researcher works on Leonardo da Vinci's "Codex Atlanticus" in Milan.   (AP Photo/Biblioteca Ambrosiana, HO)

A Metropolitan Museum of Art curator says that when she took her first look at a newly surfaced drawing that a Paris auction wanted a second opinion on, her heart started pounding and her eyes "jumped out of their sockets." Carmen Bambach, the Met's curator of Italian and Spanish drawings, tells the New York Times that she is certain the drawing that a retired doctor in central France brought to the Tajan auction house is a long-lost work by Leonardo da Vinci. "The attribution is quite incontestable," Bambach says of the drawing of the martyred St. Sebastian, which Tajan values at $15.8 million. "What we have here is an open-and-shut case. It's an exciting discovery." The drawing, she says, "exactly complemented" another da Vinci drawing of the saint, one of eight listed in his Codex Atlanticus notebooks.

Viewing the long-lost drawing is like looking over da Vinci's shoulder while he works, Bambach says. It "has so many changes of ideas, so much energy in the way he explores the figure. It has a furious spontaneity." The Times reports that the drawing, which Tajan is expected to officially unveil on Monday, was one of 14 unframed drawings the doctor brought to the auction house earlier this year, saying they were part of his late father's collection. Thaddee Prate, Tajan's director of old-master pictures, says excitement started to build when a fellow dealer pointed out that whoever created the 16th-century drawing was left-handed, like da Vinci. Prate says that the drawing's owner told him he was "very pleased" by the discovery, though he has "interests in life other than money." (Scientists have big plans for da Vinci's DNA.)

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