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Tuesday, 10 July, 2001, 12:29 GMT 13:29 UK
Da Vinci sketch fetches £8m
Leonardo da Vinci's Horse and Rider
Horse and Rider went to an anonymous bidder
A sketch by famed artist Leonardo da Vinci has sold at auction for more than £8m - double the expected amount.

The £8,143,750 paid for Da Vinci's Horse and Rider at Christie's in London also equals the world record price paid for an Old Master drawing.

It now shares that honour with Michelangelo's The Study For The Risen Christ, also sold at a Christie's auction last year.

Da Vinci's silverpoint work, said to be the most significant drawing by the Renaissance master to be sold at auction since the 30s, went to an anonymous telephone bidder.

This is a truly exceptional drawing and it achieved an exceptional price

Noel Annesley, Christie's

"This is a truly exceptional drawing and it achieved an exceptional price," said Christie's expert Noel Annesley.

It was sold by an American family, the Browns, from Washington, DC, who had had it in their art collection for the past 70 years.

Dated at around 1481-1482, the study is one of the only Da Vinci sketches left in private ownership and one of the earliest known pieces showing his fascination with horses.

Horse and Rider is a preparatory study for the artist's unfinished panel, The Adoration of the Magi, now in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

Da Vinci was a painter, sculptor, architect, theorist and scientist who continued to influence long after his death in 1519.

Horse and Rider was sold as part of Christie's Old Master Auction.

It includes a wide chronological selection of artworks from the high renaissance up until early impressionism, with about a quarter of the paintings by relatively unknown artists.

The latest work in the auction is early impressionist Jean-François Millet's Evening, dated at around 1853.

Other lots include a black chalk, pen and brown ink sketch of warriors and hippocamps [sea monsters] by French draughtsman and painter Nicolas Poussin.

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