Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519): Salvator Mundi, c. 1500, Oil

Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519): Salvator Mundi, c. 1500, Oil

10/24/2021, 10:00:20 AM
Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519): Salvator Mundi, c. 1500, Oil on walnut panel, 66 × 45 cm, Private Collection . . There are news that Christie’s will sell Leonardo da Vinci’s long-lost painting Salvator Mundi on November 15 for an estimated $100 million. The work is one of only 20 paintings known in existence by the artist. The portrait depicts Jesus Christ dressed in Renaissance clothing. He clutches a crystal orb and has the fingers on his right hand crossed. The orb symbolizes the world, which literally is in the hand of Christ. With his other hand he blesses the spectator. The number of lost Leonardo works almost equals his known paintings. Leda and the Swan, a provocative nude, was probably destroyed by a shocked religious member of the French royal family. The Battle of Anghiari was covered or destroyed at the behest of the Medici. A nude Mona Lisa, the Mona Vanna, is another lost work. Salvator Mundi, is described in 17th century documents but long thought to have vanished. For many years, this work was either considered lost or attributed to Giovan Antonio Boltraffio, a pupil of Leonardo's. That changed when it was acquired by a group of American art dealers in 2005. They had it verified as a genuine Leonardo, and paid for the restoration. There’s still debate about whether Leonardo painted it in Milan in the 1490s, while working on The Last Supper, or in Florence after 1500, while working on the Mona Lisa. Some experts believe that Leonardo originally painted the work for the French Royal family, and that Queen Henrietta Maria brought it with her to England when she married King Charles I in 1625. The work remained part of the royal family’s possessions until 1763—and then went missing for nearly 150 years. It reappeared when it entered the collection of the Virginia-based Sir Frederick Cook at the turn of the 20th century and appeared on the market again in 1958, at an auction where the painting, attributed to one of Leonardo’s studio assistants, sold for a mere £45.

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