A bronze equestrian sculpture cast from a centuries-old beeswax figure of a man on horseback created by Leonardo da Vinci is coming up for auction later this year.
The beeswax figure was authenticated in 1995 and a single bronze figure was able to be meticulously cast from the ancient wax in 2012.
Believed to be the model for what was to have been a monument honoring Leonardo’s patron Charles d’Amboise, the historic casting was titled simply Horse and Rider.
The 28cm bronze, the only casting to emerge directly from Leonardo da Vinci’s c. 1510 beeswax figure, along with the original mold made from the wax figure, will be sold by auction house Guernsey’s on November 1, 2019.
This year also marks the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death with celebrations, events and exhibits around the world honoring the “Renaissance man’s” genius. It is so rare that a work by the Leonardo da Vinci becomes available that in 2017 a painting attributed to him fetched $450 million at auction, the highest amount ever paid for a single work of art.
Emerging from a Swiss vault in the 1980s, the wax Horse and Rider became the object of intense study by Italy’s Dr Carlo Pedretti, then UCLA’s Armand Hammer Chair in Leonardo Studies. Widely acknowledged as one of the world’s leading Leonardo scholars and author of more than sixty volumes on da Vinci, Pedretti not only authenticated the sculpture but included it prominently in his three-volume master work of original Leonardo art in the British collection of Queen Elizabeth II.
After his death in 1519, Leonardo’s star pupil, Francesco Melzi, inherited the sculpture along with the rest of Leonardo’s effects.
It is believed to have remained with his family, in Italy, until the 1930s when it was taken to Switzerland for safekeeping, when war broke out.
The beeswax model is well documented in the scholarly work “Leonardo da Vinci: Scientist, Inventor, Artist” by Otto Letze and Thomas Buchsteiner.
Professor Ernesto Solari, a noted Leonardo da Vinci academic, thought so much of Horse and Rider that his 2016 book is entirely devoted to it.
Leonardo Da Vinci was born in 1452. He was an apprentice artist by the age of 14 and started his own workshop by 20. He died on May 2, 1519.