‘Salvator Mundi’ painting [Photo Courtesy]
CAIRO – 28 October 2017: A few weeks ago, news about fetching the latest rediscovered work of Da Vinci, “Salvator Munidi”, took the news media platforms by storm. Through this story, different artistic points of view will be reviewed.
“Salvator Mundi” is a portrait of Jesus Christ that dates to about the year 1500. It depicts Christ in vivid blue and crimson robes while holding a crystal orb. Historically, it was painted while Da Vinci was working on his highly-esteemed “Mona Liza” portrait.
Experts believe that the painting was originally painted for the British royal family, and it was kept in their possession until 1763.Until 1900, the work was lost, but it recently reappeared after an art collector bought it.
They also speculated on the authorship of the painting until 2011, when Da Vinci’s authenticity was proven.
Composed during the same time frame as the “Mona Liza”, art expert and critic Martin Kemp explained, “It’s very soft. Above his left eye—on the right as we look at it—there are some of these marks that he made with the heel of his hand to soften the flesh, and the face is very softly painted, which is characteristic of Leonardo after 1500.”
Dianne Dwyer Modestini, the art conservator, told Gary Meisner, “I found that Leonardo thought long and carefully about the ‘Salvator Mundi’. He was trying to create a portrait of a divine being and used a number of devices to achieve the extraordinary presence and power of the image.”
She added, “I’m not surprised that he made extensive use of the golden ratio, the ‘divine proportion’, and it is very interesting to see it mapped out in this way.”
On the other hand, the glass orb created a long time argument due to some physics mistakes in the painting.
Walter Isaacson stated in a biography about Da Vinci, “Leonardo failed to paint the distortion that would occur when looking through a solid clear orb at objects that are not touching the orb.”
He clarified, “Solid glass or crystal, whether shaped like an orb or a lens, produces magnified, inverted and reversed images; instead, Leonardo painted the orb as if it were a hollow glass bubble that does not refract or distort the light passing through it."
Regarding the material of the orb, Kemp added that the orb is from rock crystal “because [it] gets what are called inclusions…there are these little gaps, which are slightly irregular in shape, and I thought that's pretty fancy. Leonardo was a bit of an expert on rock crystal. He was asked to judge vases that Isabella d'Este was thinking of buying, and he loved those materials.”
Alan Wintermute, a senior specialist in old master paintings at Christie’s, told Artnet News, “Whatever Leonardo’s reason, we know that visual riddles and conundrums are characteristic of his great masterpieces. It is part of what makes this painting both a beautiful and intellectually engaging example of the great master’s work.”
Generally, the world has earned a new rare work for one of the renaissance masters, Leonardo Da Vinci.