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France blocks sale of rare Leonardo Da Vinci painting 'Saint Sebastian'

France has deemed a newfound Leonardo da Vinci sketch to be a national treasure and now has 30 months to raise 15 million euros ($15.8 million) to purchase it, an auction house said Tuesday.

France blocks sale of rare Leonardo Da Vinci painting 'Saint Sebastian'
A member of Paris auctioneer Tajan displaying a previously undiscovered drawing by Leonardo da Vinci at the auction
house in Paris. The French state has thirty months to find the 15 million euros requested by the seller, 
said the auctioneer Tajan on January 10, 2017 [Credit: Philippe Lopez/AFP]
The Renaissance master's dreamily sensual sketch of Saint Sebastian was classified as a French national treasure on December 29, Tajan auctioneers in Paris said during an unveiling of the work to the press.

The French government has a "right of pre-emption" under which it has 30 months to purchase items that it deems should remain in France.

Discovered in the papers of a French provincial doctor who wants to remain anonymous, the drawing measures 19.3 x 13 centimetres (7.6 x 5 inches) and was authenticated by leading Da Vinci experts.

The dramatic study, which it is thought Leonardo did in his late 20s or early 30s, is one of eight he is known to have drawn of Saint Sebastian.

It is thought the sketch, done with a quill pen on thin paper, may have come from one of the artist's famous notebooks.

A couple of scientific sketches are on the back, as well as some back-to-front writing, a technique Da Vinci used regularly so that his writing could be read only by using a mirror.

The find is extremely rare, with the last Da Vinci drawing that came to market -- a sketch of a horse and rider -- equalling the world record for an Old Master drawing when it sold for $10 million in 2001.

Source: AFP [January 10, 2017]

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