Today’s Friday Favourite is the Salvator Mundi painting recently attributed to Leonardo da Vinci. I saw the painting at the 2011-12 exhibition Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan at the National Gallery in London.
The painting has had an interesting history: known to have been in the collection of King Charles I of England, it was auctioned of by the son of the Duke of Buckingham in 1763. It then went off radar until 1900, when Birtish Collector Sir Frederick Cook purchased it. Cook found that it has been damaged from earlier restoration work.
It was sold by Cook’s descendants for £45 at an auction, where it again went off radar. It was rediscovered by art restorer Dianne Modestini and dealer and art historian Robert Simon in New York. A consortium of US art dealers purchased the painting in 2005, and it was subsequently authenticated as a da Vinci work.
How amazing that a piece that last sold for £45 is now worth around £125 million!
The painting has all the hallmarks of the Master’s work: the enigmatic subject, the intricate detail, the otherworldly countenance, and the beautiful rendering of the fabric. But for me, the most amazing feature of this painting is the way in which da Vinci has executed the painting of the crystal orb. It is truly breath-taking,: clearly the work of a master painter.
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