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da Vinci sketch may return to Italy

Culture News

A sketch attributed to Leonardo da Vinci could end up at auction, and return to Italy. The Italian culture ministry said Monday it would bid for the work if authenticated as a da Vinci sketch.

Leonardo mentioned a series of eight sketches for the martyrdom of Saint Sebastian in his Codex Atlanticus.

The pen and ink drawing on paper (which measures just 19.3 × 13 centimetres), “Study for the martyrdom of Saint Sebastian”, attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, was wanted by the Louvre in Paris. However, the owner rejected a purchase offer from the Louvre Museum of €10million.

The Italian culture ministry said Monday it would bid for the suspected Leonardo, if the work is authenticated as by the Renaissance genius polymath. However, Culture Undersecretary Vittorio Sgarbi, one of Italy’s top art experts, said “that work mustn’t be bought, it’s mediocre and not by Leonardo”.

The ministry said, “We are following the news regarding the Study for the Martyrdom of St. Sebastian with great attention. And it will be the experts, in Italy, we have some very authoritative ones, who will say whether it is really by Leonardo and define its value.

“Should the attribution of the drawing to the Italian genius be confirmed and should the work really end up at auction, the Ministry, through the competent bodies, will verify all possible avenues, including the involvement of private individuals and patrons, to make a well-considered and fair purchase offer and allocate the work to a major Italian public museum”.

The current owner found the sketch among the papers bequeathed by his grandfather, in 2016.

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