Lot 10
  • 10

ITALIAN SCHOOL, 16TH CENTURY | The Fight for the Standard (The Battle of Anghiari), after Leonardo

25,000 - 35,000 USD
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • The Fight for the Standard (The Battle of Anghiari), after Leonardo
  • Black chalk and gray wash, with touches of pen and brown ink;bears inscriptions, in brown ink: Leonardo da Vinci (fecit deleted), No 2 and A v Dyk
  • 435 by 565 mm; 17 1/8  by 22 1/4  in


Thomas Dimsdale (1769-1830), London (L.2426);
Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830), London (L.2445);
from whose estate acquired by Samuel Woodburn (First Woodburn/Lawrence exhibition, 1835, no. 23, as Rubens);
from whom acquired in February 1838 by Prince William of Orange, later King William II (1792-1849),
his sale, The Hague, de Vries/Roos/Brondgeest, 12 August 1850 and following days, lot 323 (as RUBBENS. (École de) Un combat; d'après un maître italien; bought back for the family by Brondgeest),
by inheritance to the present owner


London, S. & A. Woodburn, The Lawrence Gallery. First exhibition. A Catalogue of One Hundred Original Drawings by Sir P.P. Rubens, Collected by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1835, no. 23 (as Rubens: ‘FIGHTING FOR THE STANDARD – a highly finished drawing of this famous subject, from the Cartoon by Leonardo da Vinci. This drawing was engraved by Edelinck; and is very interesting, the original Cartoon having been destroyed. Black chalk, highly finished. Size 221/2 inches by 17 inches. From the Collection of Thomas Dimsdale, Esq.’);
Rotterdam, Museum Boymans, Tekeningen van Petrus Paulus Rubens, no. 62 (as Rubens);
Rotterdam, Kunsthal, Leonardo da Vinci: uitvinder, wetenschapper en kunstenaar, 1995-6, p. 206;
Saint Petersburg, State Hermitage Museum, Willem II and Anna Pavlovna. Royal Splendour at the Netherlands Court, 2013-14 (catalogue ed. Sander Paarlberg and Henk Slechte), no. 187; also shown, with different titles, at Dordrecht, Dordrechts Museum (Willem II - Kunstkoning) and Luxembourg, Villa Vauban, Musée d`Art de la Ville de Luxembourg (Une Passion Royale Pour l'Art: Guillaume II des Pays-Bas et Anna Pavlovna);
Haarlem, Teylers Museum, Leonardo da Vinci. The language of faces, 2018-19, no. 42


Inventory of the Collection of Drawings by Old Masters Formed by Sir Thomas Lawrence, P.R.A, drawn up while the Collection was still in his House (duplicated typescript, National Art Library, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 86 w 39), fol. 78, Case 7 Drawer 2 (‘4. An exact copy by Rubens of the famous Battle of the Standard which served Edelink for the Engraving’);
Athenaeum, 30 May 1835;
Morning Advertiser, 27 May 1835;
G.F. Waagen, Works of Art and Artists in England, vol. II, London, 1835, p. 175 (as Rubens);
F. Reiset, Notice des dessins, cartons, pastels, miniatures et émaux exposés dans les salles du 1er étage au Musée Impérial du Louvre, Première partie: Écoles d’Italie, écoles allemande, flamande et hollandaise… Paris, 1866, pp. 318-319, under no. 565 (as a copy);
M. Rooses, L’Œuvre de P.P. Rubens. Histoire et description de ses tableaux et dessins, Antwerp, 1886-1892, V, p. 207, under no. 1.395 (as a copy after Rubens);
I.Q. van Regteren Altena, Rubens, 1940, p. 199, pl. I (as Rubens);
W. Stechow, ‘Recent periodical literature on 17th-century painting in the Netherlands and Germany’, The Art Bulletin, XXIII, 1941, p. 225;
F. Lugt, École flamande (Musée du Louvre, Inventaire Général des dessins des Écoles du Nord), vol. II, Paris, 1949, pp. 29-30, under no. 1.084 (as a second version);
J. Wilde, ‘Michelangelo and Leonardo’, The Burlington Magazine, XCV, 1953, p.69 (as Rubens);
J.S. Held, Rubens. Selected Drawings, with an Introduction and a Critical Catalogue, vol. I-II, London, 1959, pp. 157-9, under no. 161 (as Rubens’s first drawing, or copy after it);
C.-A. Isermeyer, ‘Die Arbeiten Leonardos und Michelangelos für den Grossen Ratsaal in Florenz. Eine Revision der Bild-und Schriftquellen für ihre Rekonstruktion und Geschichte’, in Studien zur Toskanischen Kunst. Festschrift für Heinrich Heydenreich zum 23. März 1963, Munich, 1964, p. 108, fig. 8 (as studio replica of Rubens’s drawing after Leonardo’s ‘Trial Panel’, dated c. 1603);
J. Müller Hofstede, ‘An Early Rubens Conversion of St. Paul. The Beginning of his Preoccupation with Leonardo’s Battle of Anghiari’, The Burlington Magazine, CVI, 1964, pp. 101-102, fig. 14 (as by unknown artist after Rubens);
A. Georges, ‘La composition dans l’oeuvre peint de Léonard de Vinci: Conception, originalité, influence’, in Mélanges d’archéologie et d’histoire de l’art, offerts au professeur Jacques Lavallaye, Louvain, 1970, pp. 107-108 (as after Rubens);
C. Pedretti, Leonardo. A study in Chronology and Style, London, 1973, p. 84 (as after Rubens);
R. Avermaete, Rubens et son temps, Brussels, 1977, p. 64, reproduced (wrongly as Rijksprentenkabinet, Amsterdam);
M. Jaffé, Rubens and Italy, 1977, p.30;
A.-M. Logan, ‘Rubens Exhibitions 1977’, Master Drawings, XV, 1977, p. 409 (as not Rubens, version of the original state of the Louvre drawing);
A.-M. Logan and E. Haverkamp-Begemann, ‘Dessins de Rubens’, Revue de l’art, no. 42, 1978, p. 96 (as an anonymous copy made before Rubens’s reworking);
K. Renger, ‘Rubens, Drawings and Sketches. Ausstellung des Departement of Prints and Drawings in the British Museum, 15. Juli bis 31. Oktober 1977; Peter Paul Rubens. Ausstellung des Wallraf-Richartz-Museums in der Kunsthalle Köln, 15. Oktober bis 15. Dezember 1977’, Kunstchronik, XXXI, 1978, p 82, under no. 79;
A. Sérullaz, Rubens, ses maîtres, ses élèves: dessins du Musée du Louvre (Cabinet des Dessins, Musée du Louvre, Paris, 1978), p. 82, under no. 79;
D. Freedberg, Rubens. The life of Christ after the Passion (Corpus Rubenianum Ludwug Burchard, VII), London-Oxford, 1984, p. 113, note 10 (as possibly a copy);
J.S. Held, Rubens. Selected Drawings, with an introduction and a Critical Catalogue, rev. ed. Oxford-Mount Kisco, 1986, pp.86-8, under no. 85 (as Rubens or a copy after him);
A.-M. Logan, Review of Julius S. Held, The Oil Sketches of Peter Paul Rubens. A Critical Catalogue, (Master Drawings, XXI, 1983, pp. 412-7), 1987, p.71 (as After a Leonardo prototype, without Rubens’ intervention);
P. Joannides, ‘Leonardo da Vinci, Peter-Paul Rubens, Pierre-Nolasque Bergeret and the ‘Fight for the Standard’’, Achademia Leonardi Vinci. Journal of Leonardo Studies and Bibliography of Vinciana, ed. C. Pedretti, I, 1988, pp. 79-80, fig. 9 (as Rubens, or after him);
E. Hinterding and F. Horsch, ‘A note on Willem II’s collection of old master drawings,’ Simiolus, vol. 19, 1989, p 54;
D. Bodart, Pietro Paulo Rubens (1577-1640) (Palazzo della Ragione, Padua; Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome; Società per le Belle Arti ed Esposizione Permanente, Milan, 1990, p.64, under no. 15;
F. Zöllner, ‘Rubens reworks Leonardo. ‘the Fight for the Standard’’, Achademia Leonardi Vinci. Journal of Leonardo Studies and Bibliography of Vinciana, ed. C. Pedretti, IV, 1991, pp. 181-2, 184 and 186-90, fig. 2 (as anonymous copy after Leonardo);
F. Zöllner, La Battaglia di Anghiari di Leonardo da Vinci fra mitologia e politica (Lettura Vinciana, XXXVII), Vinci-Florence, 1998, pp. 13 and 33, no. VIII (as anonymous copy of the drawing retouched by Rubens, dated to early seventeenth century);
J. Wood, Rubens. Drawing on Italy, exhib. cat., National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh; Djanogly Art Gallery, University of Nottingham, 2002, p. 40, under no. 4 (as copy of the core section of Louvre inv. no. 20.271 before retouching and enlargement);
A.-M. Logan in C.C. Bambach, Leonardo da Vinci. Master Draftsmen, exhib. cat., New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2003, pp. 672 and 674-5, under no. 135;
A.-M. Logan in Léonard de Vinci. Dessins et Manuscrits, exhib. cat., Paris, Musée du Louvre, 2003, pp. 294-6, fig. 80 (as anonymous);
M.C. Plomp, ‘Rubens’ Zeichnungen als Sammelobjekte’, in K.A. Schröder and H. Widauer, Peter Paul Rubens, exhib. cat., Vienna, Graphische Sammlung Albertina, 2004, p. 109;
M.C. Plomp, ‘Collecting Rubens’s Drawings’, in A.-M. Logan and M.C. Plomp, Peter Paul Rubens. The Drawings, exhib. cat., New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2005, p.54;
J. Wood, Rubens, Copies and adaptations from Renaissance and later artists, Italian artists: III. Artists working in central Italy and France, (Corpus Rubenianum Ludwig Burchard Part XXVI (2)), London/Turnhout 2011, pp. 79, 86-87, 89-90, Copy 1 under no. 165, reproduced fig. 2 


Backed with japan paper throughout and window mounted. Evidence of previous vertical fold down centre, and another, less visible, horizontal fold across the centre. Several repaired tears and losses around the edges, and one slightly larger towards lower right corner, the four tips of the corners made up. Areas of thinned paper in top left corner and top centre, and along the line of the crease, appear to have been reinforced with additional paper pulp from the verso. Chalk somewhat rubbed towards edges. Sold in a modern frame.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

This large and dynamic drawing records the composition of the only fully realised section of Leonardo da Vinci’s lost masterpiece, The Battle of Anghiari.  Considered an original drawing by Rubens until the mid-20th century, it is now believed to be an anonymous Italian work of an earlier period, but it remains a particularly valuable record of the completed part of Leonardo’s great fresco, which adorned the wall of the Sala del Gran Consiglio in Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio from around 1506 until the later 1550s, when it was removed or concealed by Giorgio Vasari, to make way for his own decorative scheme. The battle of Anghiari took place in 1440, and saw the Florentines, under the leadership of Pier Giampaolo Orsini, defeat the forces of Filippo Maria Visconti, Duke of Milan.  The fight for possession of the Milanese standard was the crucial moment in the battle, and when Leonardo da Vinci was commissioned to decorate the walls of the Palazzo Vecchio with his representations of The Battle of Anghiari, he chose to make The Fight for the Standard the central scene in the scheme.  Due to the relatively early loss of the original fresco, only very few of the known copies after Leonardo’s composition can be thought to have been made after the original painting, perhaps the most notable being a 1558 print by Lorenzo Zacchia the Younger, known only in a unique impression in the Albertina, Vienna. 

Rubens could never have seen Leonardo’s fresco in the original, as it was long gone by the time he arrived in Italy in 1600.  All the same, he did acquire an anonymous drawn copy of the composition, which he adapted and reworked very extensively, producing a magnificent sheet, now in the Louvre1, that is one of the most important and revealing examples of how Rubens reworked copies of Italian masterpieces made by others, to make them his own.  In many of Rubens’ later battle and hunt scenes, the influence of Leonardo’s revolutionary painting is abundantly evident.  The present drawing, which bears an early attribution to Van Dyck, was bought by Prince William of Orange from the collection of Thomas Lawrence as a copy by Rubens after a lost Leonardo cartoon for his Palazzo Vecchio fresco.  (For more on Prince William’s purchases from the Lawrence collection, see the introduction on pp. 18-25 above, and also the note to lot 13).  The 1835 Lawrence collection catalogue also stated that the drawing served as the basis for another print, made some time after Rubens’ death by Gerard Edelinck (1640-1707), but this is not in fact the case as the apparent modello by Edelinck is in the Fogg Museum, at Harvard University.2

The drawing continued to be generally described in the literature as a Rubens as late as the 1950s3, and has featured in an extraordinary number of publications on both Rubens and Leonardo.  The consensus of recent scholarly opinion has been very clearly summarised by Jeremy Wood and Anne-Marie Logan (see Literature), who have both cogently argued that this appears to be a copy after the same, or a similar, source to the original, underlying drawing on the sheet in the Louvre, on which Rubens began his heavy reworking around 1612-15, following his return from Italy.  A further version of the composition, in pen and ink, is considered a copy, in turn, after the present drawing.4 The drawing from the collection of William II could have been made by an Italian artist, prior to Rubens’ arrival in Italy in 1600, or could have been ordered by Rubens himself from an artist in his orbit, even after his return to Antwerp, perhaps to preserve the unadulterated record of the lost composition before he reworked the drawing now in the Louvre.   Either way, though, it is a rare and important early record of a major, lost fresco by Leonardo da Vinci – one of the most influential compositions of the early Renaissance – and a testament to the impact of that composition on the young Rubens. 

1. Inv. no. 20.271; Wood, op. cit., 2011, no. 165
2. Ibid., p. 87, fig. 4
3. e.g. by Michael Jaffé, op. cit., 1958
4. Formerly in the Armand Hammer collection; Wood, op. cit., 2011, pp. 79-80 Copy 2 under no. 165, reproduced fig. 3