Optical studies on a drawing attributed to Leonardo da Vinci.

France Bars Export of Newly Discovered Drawing Attributed to Da Vinci

Victoria Stapley-Brown and Gareth Harris of the Art Newspaper report that a two-sided drawing attributed to Leonardo da Vinci’s volume of scientific studies, texts, and sketches, the Codex Atlanticus (1478-1519), has been temporarily barred from export by the French government, as it is considered “a national treasure.” Tajan, an auction house based in Paris, discovered the piece in December 2016, and requested an export certificate for it. Tajan, however, has said nothing about the bar or the sale of the work.

On one side of the drawing are optical studies; on the other, an illustration of Saint Sebastian. As per the bar, France now has thirty months to purchase the work at market value. Tajan estimated that the drawing is worth more than $15.5 million.

A retired doctor brought the work to Tajan—it was one from a group of fourteen drawings that belonged to the doctor’s father. The director of old-master paintings at the auction house consulted Carmen Bambach, a curator of Italian and Spanish drawings at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Bambach spoke with the New York Times recently about the piece, saying that it being a Da Vinci is “quite incontestable.”