NEW YORK – On October 30 at New York’s Pierre Hotel, Guernsey’s will auction the original and only 21st-century bronze casting of Leonardo da Vinci’s (Italian, 1452-1519) 16th-century figure titled Horse and Rider.
The last occasion that a work of art attributed to the great artist became available was in 2017, when Leonardo’s Salvator Mundi brought $450 million at auction. It was the highest amount ever paid at auction for a single work of art. In the late 20th century, the centuries-old beeswax figure of a man on horseback was authenticated by scholars as having been the work of Leonardo da Vinci.
Due to the deteriorating condition of the wax, it was decided that a single bronze figure would be cast. Believed to be the model for what was to have been a monument honoring Leonardo’s patron Charles d’Amboise, the bronze casting was titled simply Horse and Rider (Cavalla e Cavaliere). The original wax remains in a private collection in London, whose owner remains anonymous.
Reported to have emerged from the Melzi collection in the early 20th century, the wax Horse and Rider became the object of intense study in the latter half of the century by Italy’s Dr. Carlo Pedretti (then, UCLA’s Armand Hammer Chair in Renaissance Studies). The Leonardo scholar not only authenticated the sculpture but included it prominently in his three-volume masterwork of original Leonardo da Vinci art in the British collection of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. In a 1985 letter, Pedretti wrote: “In my opinion, this wax model is by Leonardo himself…”
Professor Ernesto Solari, a noted Leonardo da Vinci academic, authored a book entirely about Horse and Rider. At Cambridge University in 2005, Dr. Constance Moffatt spoke of the work in saying, “the animation and pose of the horse match so many drawings made by Leonardo…” In arriving at their statements, both Pedretti and Moffatt point to the similarities between the work and Leonardo’s horse drawings found in Queen Elizabeth II’s collection, studies by Leonardo for the Sforza and Trivulzio monuments, and carbon-dating records.
Guernsey’s president, Arlan Ettinger, said, “I am honored to be part of a story centuries in the making. Guernsey’s is committed to finding an appropriate home for an invaluable piece of culture, and I look forward to welcoming all those interested to bid at the auction.”
Click to view a video about da Vinci’s Horse and Rider.
Click to visit Guernsey’s online.
About Guernsey’s Auction House
In its 44th year, Guernsey’s has built a reputation as the auction house known for representing the most extraordinary properties from the largest auction in history (the ocean liner the S.S. United States) to vintage racing cars to artwork from the Soviet Union, pre-Castro Cuban cigars, the $3 million baseball, and the John F. Kennedy auctions. Guernsey’s has few rivals when it comes to the presentation of wildly diverse artwork and artifacts. The auction house is particularly proud of its work with the Library of Congress in the preservation of the complete Rosa Parks Archive.
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