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Mystery surrounds $450M da Vinci painting

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Java Blue
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« on: November 17, 2017, 06:36:14 pm »

Mystery surrounds $450M da Vinci painting
Posted on Thursday, 16 November, 2017 |


Why does the orb in this painting ignore diffraction and reflection ? Image Credit: Leonardo da Vinci
The 500-year-old painting, which sold for a record-breaking sum at auction, has a few peculiarities.
Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi, or 'Saviour of the World', made waves in the art world recently when it sold for $460 million at auction - making it the most valuable painting in history.

Incredibly, it originally sold in the 1950s for a mere $45 because it was believed to be a copy.

But is the painting really a da Vinci ? In recent years, art experts have hotly debated several key inconsistencies with the piece that suggest that the Renaissance genius may not have created it.

Chief among these is the way that the artist has painted the orb that Jesus is holding.

According to biographer Walter Isaacson, Salvator Mundi was painted when Leonardo was 48 years old - a time of his life when he had been deeply invested in studying physics and optics.

The orb in the painting however does not exhibit the diffraction of light, nor reflection of the hand expected of a glass sphere positioned as it is in the piece.

Da Vinci would have never made such a mistake - at least not accidentally - so could he have left out these details on purpose ? On this possibility, Isaacson wrote that Leonardo may have been "subtly trying to impart a miraculous quality to Christ and his orb."

As things stand however, we may never know for sure.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/art/artists/salvator-mundi-mystery-orb-worlds-expensive-painting-real-leonardo/
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Java Blue
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« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2017, 06:36:51 pm »

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« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2017, 06:38:10 pm »


Salvator Mundi and the mystery of the orb: is the world's most expensive painting a real Leonardo?



Leonardo Da Vinci's Salvator Mundi Credit: AFP

    Telegraph Reporters

16 November 2017 • 2:36pm

Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi has sold at auction for a record-breaking $450 million (£342 million). It raises a number of questions: Can any painting really be worth that much? Why are we still so obsessed with da Vinci? And then there's the question that may give its buyer the sleepless nights – is it really a da Vinci at all?

This painting has had a remarkable change of fortune in just a few decades. In the Fifties, Salvator Mundi ("Saviour of the World") was sold for just £45, when it was believed to be a copy. Now it's worth 10 million times as much. This sale far exceeding the previous world record set by set by Paul Gauguin's Nafea Faa Ipoipo? (When Will You Marry?), which went for $300 million in 2015.

It's undeniable that most of that value rests on Leonardo's name. An attractive copy of Salvator Mundia, painted by Leonardo's assistant Gian Giacomo Caprotti (nicknamed "Salai"), sold at Sotheby's 10 years ago for just $656,000 – mere pocket change, compared to the amount changing hands for the real thing. But the painting's unusual provenance, and a few uncharacteristic artistic choices, have thrown doubt on its authenticity. Here are four details that have the experts concerned:
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Java Blue
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« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2017, 06:38:39 pm »

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Java Blue
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« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2017, 06:39:22 pm »

1. The orb
Salvator Mundi
Credit: Reuters

Salvator Mundi is thought to have been painted around 1500, when Leonardo would have been 48. As his biographer Walter Isaacson notes at that time he was was deeply involved in his research of optics and physics. The laws of physics in one part of Salvator Mundi, however, are a little off.

The diffraction of light through the glass or crystal ball Christ is pictured holding should warp the robes behind it, and a reflection of his hand should appear the glass – but it does not. This could be seen as a mistake – or a sign that the work is not Leonardo's – but Isaacson has defended it, suggesting the artist was "subtly trying to impart a miraculous quality to Christ and his orb".
2. The position of the body
La belle ferronnière




Detail of Leonardo's paintings La belle ferronnière (left, c1490-97) and St John the Baptist (c1508)

No other painting by Leonardo features a subject in the utterly straight, central posture of Salvator Mundi's Christ. The movement that is a hallmark of his other paintings, the subtle twist of a neck or shoulder, is absent here.

Michael Daley, the director of ArtWatch UK, has described Salvator Mundi's composition as "dead-pan flat, like an icon, with no real depth in the modelling", arguing that "there isn’t enough [evidence] to claim it’s a Leonardo".
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Java Blue
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« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2017, 06:40:39 pm »

3. The provenance

There are fewer than 20 authenticated artworks by Leonardo, and this version of Salvator Mundi has not been among their number for long. It's commonly accepted that Leonardo painted a Salvator Mundi – 17th century artist Wenceslaus Hollar produced an etching based on his original – but the question inevitably arises as to whether this is it.

The original was once owned by Charles I, but disappeared completely from 1763. Salvator Mundi only surfaced in 1900, when it was bought by the collector Sir Charles Robinson. For a long time, it was attributed to Leonardo's follower Bernardino Luini. After it was sold in 1958, it vanished once more, only appearing again in 2005.

Although recent testing suggests it dates from Leonardo's lifetime, it is possible that the painting is a collaborative work, as is thought to be the case with the Bucchleuch Madonna, a version of the Madonna of the Yarnwinder which Leonardo may have produced with another member of his workshop.



Detail of The Bucchleuch Madonna, c1499-1501
Detail of The Bucchleuch Madonna, c1499-1501
4. The restoration

Even if this picture was by Leonardo, there is a very real argument that today's painting is no longer his.

The picture that reappeared in Louisiani in 2005 was almost unrecognisible after years of damage, and partly painted over. Its most restoration project took six years, and involved considerable work.

New York magazine writer Jerry Saltz quotes an anonymous critic as claiming they believed “90 per cent of it was painted in the last 50 years" – though this outlandish estimate is surely an overstatement.

It was restored by Dianne Dwyer Modestini, one of the leading practitioners in her field, who had to compete with not only decades of grime but with a previous, botched restoration. But every repair that requires a new addition brings the painting further from its past, from the patina of history that has become as much a part of the painting as Leonardo's brushstrokes.

As Modestini told CNN in 2011, “I wanted [to be sure] that none of my restorations had impinged on the original, that I had not done too much, because old pictures have to look old—if you take out every crack, every spot, every anomaly, they can easily look like a reproduction." Even choosing which spots and cracks to keep becomes an aesthetic decision; despite Modestini's modest comments, part of this Salvator Mundi's artistry is undoubtedly her own.

Is it a rediscovered masterpiece, a new Mona Lisa? Or is it, in the words of art adviser Todd Levin, “a thumping epic triumph of branding and desire over connoisseurship and reality"? To know for certain, you might as well consult a crystal ball.
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« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2017, 06:41:06 pm »

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/art/artists/salvator-mundi-mystery-orb-worlds-expensive-painting-real-leonardo/
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