France Issues Export Ban on Newly Discovered $16 Million Da Vinci Drawing

The French government has 30 months to purchase the double-sided drawing at market value.

The front of the drawing attributed to Leonardo da Vinci. Courtesy Tajan.
The front of the drawing attributed to Leonardo da Vinci. Courtesy of Tajan.

A recently-discovered drawing of St. Sebastian thought to be by the hand of Leonardo da Vinci has been deemed “a national treasure” by the French government, which has now placed an export ban on the sketch, valued at €15 million ($15.7 million), the Art Newspaper reports.

The drawing depicts the saint in anguish and bound to a tree. On the reverse are notes and drawings, and studies of light and shadow.

The drawing was authenticated in December 2016, after it was brought to Tajan auction house in Paris in March 2016, and subsequently confirmed as being by Da Vinci by three experts.

The back of the drawing attributed to Leonardo da Vinci. Courtesy Tajan,

The back of the drawing attributed to Leonardo da Vinci. Courtesy Tajan.

Curator Carmen C. Bambach of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, who organized the 2003 exhibition “Leonardo da Vinci, Master Draftsman,” is of the opinion that the drawing was made between 1482 and 1485, and could be a study for a lost painting.

“My heart will always pound when I think about that drawing,” Bambach told the New York Times last month.

The export ban, issued after a request from Tajan, prevents the drawing from leaving France for 30 months, giving the government time to raise funds to purchase it at market value.

The government has deemed it a “precious testimony to the genius of Leonardo da Vinci,” according to a statement from the ministry of culture, adding that, “it is essential that it is kept [in France].”


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