Lovers of Leonardo da Vinci found a new reason to rejoice at Christie’s, New York, with his new finding. In the November of 2017, the auction of Christ Salvator Mundi (meaning Savior of the World) got the attention of the art lovers all over the globe, but its sale price left all of them stunned. Its price has jumped from the very first auction price of £45 at a Sotheby’s London auction on June 25, 1958 to the gigantic $450 million. The colossal sum that no one had ever thought of for a single painting, but at Christie’s, it made history when the hammer went down with $450 million for it.
Leonardo da Vinci was a natural genius as a painter, sculptor, and architect. Among his famous paintings, Mona Lisa is the most famous one. But now, Salvator Mundi seems to replace Mona Lisa and become the most famous one.
There are several technical specifications in Salvator Mundi which have been peculiar in other da Vinci works. For example, there’s an evident pentimento on the right thumb position. The face has been given the typical da Vinci sfumato touch, created with the help of heel of the hand. Besides, the hair curls, falling in perfect spirals over Christ’s shoulders and perfectly merging with the background and the stole knotwork also resembles the typical Leonardo style. The hand details and its benediction posture details, having one hand raised and the other holding a glass orb. There’s a refraction of hand with a double outline visible through the glass orb.
Salvator Mundi is only known oil painting of da Vinci having its subject in a straight posture. The slight twist of the neck, which was his hallmark technique, is not followed here.
The dimensions of main features entirely in sync with the typical da Vinci golden ratio.
As per the experts, the painting was commissioned around circa 1500, apparently for the French king Louis XII. During the 17th century, it reached England when the French princess Henrietta Maria tied the nuptial knot with King Charles I. For many years it was part of their private chamber until 1649 when the king got executed, and the painting, along with other royal property was sold to settle the king’s massive debts. John Stone, an architect, bought it for a meager sum of £30 but returned to the palace in 1660. Over the years, during 1700, the oil painting again went off the radar.
When the masterpiece resurfaced again in 1900, by that time it had undergone a lot of touch-ups and over paintings. Also, by then many experts considered it to be an attempt by a Vinci follower, Bernardino Luini. It was again auctioned at Sotheby’s and got sold for £45.
In 2005, the oil painting was rediscovered at the New Orleans auction by an association of art dealers, including Robert Simon, who bought it for $100,000. At that time Christie’s considered it to be a copied work. To find out the truth, people sent the oil painting to Dianne Dwyer Modestini for restoration. After having done extensive research on the piece by the curators, it was then sent to the National Gallery in London for getting it compared with the other original work of da Vinci. In 2011-12, the Louvre, Paris stamped it to be a unique piece of artwork by the master himself.
Though the former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art had already predicted that this painting is going to attract people similarly as the Mona Lisa does it at the Louvre, but no one had imagined such a huge figure for the piece.
The painting had always been famous for the art lovers of that era, and it carries the same importance for the art lovers of the present period. This could be attributed to specific reasons, mainly it depicting Christ in the Renaissance theme and also it probably being the last work by Leonardo. Also, there are only less than twenty paintings of da Vinci known, and this particular being the only one that remained in someone’s possession.
The immediate sale of “Salvator Mundi” captured the attention of all the art lovers and buyers, and the painting was also toured around places, making it accessible and more curious. Christie’s also called the auction to be ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ deal. No doubt that everyone present in the auction hall wanted to own this latest discovery of art history. All the speculations and the debate over its authentication combined, as a result, made Salvator Mundi the most high priced artwork ever.
Though the new owner of the much talked about Salvator Mundi is not precisely known, yet there are speculations of him being from the middle east and this oil painting may be a part of Louvre Abu Dhabi very soon.
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