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Leonardo da Vinci drawing sells at auction for $12.22M

Head of Bear is one of a number of drawings Leonardo da Vinci completed using the silverpoint technique. File Photo courtesy of Christie's
"Head of Bear" is one of a number of drawings Leonardo da Vinci completed using the silverpoint technique. File Photo courtesy of Christie's

July 8 (UPI) -- A rare drawing by Italian Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci sold at auction Thursday for $12.22 million in London, Christie's said.

The small drawing, Head of a Bear, sold as part of the auction house's "The Exceptional Sale" of artworks from antiquity through modernity. Overall, the auction realized $26.94 million.

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The drawing, which is 2 3/4 inches by 2 3/4 inches, was completed using a technique called silverpoint. This process involves using a silver stylus to draw on specially prepared paper.

Leonardo used the technique for several drawings, including others of animals, having learned it from his teacher, Andrea del Verrocchio.

"In these early and innovative drawings, Leonardo infused a new level of realism into a longstanding tradition of animal imagery illustrating bestiaries and model books produced in Europe from the Middle Ages through the Early Renaissance," Christie's said in an essay about the artwork.

Christie's said Head of a Bear is one of a "very small" number of Leonardo artworks still held in private hands.

The drawing was completed sometime in the late 15th century and its ownership can be traced back to British artist Sir Thomas Lawrence, who passed it on to his art dealer upon his death in 1830. The dealer, Samuel Woodburn, sold it through Christie's in 1860, and it was later acquired by Capt. Norman Robert Colville, who died in 1974.

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Christie's declined to identify the most recent owner of the drawing or Thursday's buyer.

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