Salvator Mundi: Rediscovering Leonardo da Vinci’s Painting

Leonardo da Vinci is considered one of the greatest painters and artists of all time. His most famous works include the Mona Lisa, the Last Supper and the Salvator Mundi. This painting was long thought to be a copy of a lost original. Still, it was rediscovered and restored in time for a major exhibition of Leonardo’s work at the National Gallery, London, in 2011-2012, which included it.

The painting depicts Christ in a blue Renaissance dress making the sign of the cross with his right hand and holding a crystal orb in his left one. While most leading scholars consider it to be an original work by Leonardo, some specialists dispute this attribution. The painting was sold at auction in 2017 for a record-breaking price of US$450.3 million and is now held in private collections.

Regardless of its attribution, the Salvator Mundi has become one of the most talked-about paintings ever and rediscovered Leonardo’s genius to a new generation of art lovers. It is a testament to the enduring power of Leonardo da Vinci and his masterpieces, even centuries after their creation. The story of the painting’s rediscovery and revelation as an original has captivated the imagination of art historians, curators, and collectors alike.

Salvator Mundi

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The Origins of Salvator Mundi

Leonardo da Vinci’s painting “Salvator Mundi” was likely commissioned around 1500, shortly after King Louis XII of France took control of Genoa in the Second Italian War. It is possible that the painting may have been commissioned by a specific patron, possibly Isabella d’Este, Duchess of Milan or Louis XII of France and his consort, Anne of Brittany. Its sources are in Byzantine art while it further developed in Northern Europe before finding its place in Italy. In fact, there exist at least thirty copies and variations of the painting by Leonardo’s pupils and followers with the most significant being formerly held by de Ganay Collection.

Its Journey Through History

The painting was likely in possession of James Hamilton’s Chelsea Manor in London from 1638 to 1641 and later inherited by King Charles II after the English Restoration in 1660. It also passed through Catherine Sedley, the mistress of King James II, whose illegitimate daughter with him became John Sheffield, Duke of Buckingham’s third wife. The painting was auctioned off along with other artworks from Buckingham House when the building was sold to George III in 1763. It remained unverified for centuries until a restoration project uncovered it and authenticated it as an original work attributed to Leonardo da Vinci in 2011.

Salvator Mundi
The painting after its modern restoration and framing

Impact and Significance of Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi

Leonardo da Vinci’s painting, “Salvator Mundi”, is one of the most significant works demonstrating his artistic mastery. Leonardo’s discovery and authentication as a true work highlight the importance of restoration projects that can help uncover lost masterpieces and bring them back to life. The painting also holds strong religious significance, captured in its various copies and variations over time, some attributed to other great painters such as Raphael, Titian, etc. Additionally, the unprecedented price it commanded at auction also stands as a testament to its impact and importance.

Leonardo da Vinci’s painting, “Salvator Mundi“, is a remarkable work of art that has captivated the world for centuries. It is a testament to Leonardo’s genius and skill in capturing religious subjects with beauty and finesse. The journey of its discovery and authentication as an original masterpiece by Leonardo reveals the importance of restoration projects and the ability to uncover lost masterpieces. Its historic significance and its record-breaking auction price are a testament to its enduring power and impact throughout history.


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