da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi (‘Saviour of the World’) – offered for sale by Christie’s in New York, November 2017

Leonardo da Vinci, Salvator Mundi (‘Saviour of the World’), c.1500.  Oil on walnut panel (c. 64 x 45 cm). (Detail)


Leonardo da Vinci was one of the greatest artists ever to have lived.  He left fewer that 20 completed paintings, so the authentication of a newly “discovered” painting in 2011 – Salvator Mundi, (Saviour of the World) – was hugely exciting, all the more so as it is such an evocative and moving masterpiece.

The painting shows Christ with a crystal orb in his left hand, raising his right hand in blessing, looking at us with the same enigmatic expression and beauty which has made Mona Lisa the most famous painting in the world.  So where has it been for the last 500 years? Prior to 2011 the painting was documented but believed destroyed.  We know it belonged to Charles I, possibly brought to Britain by Queen Henrietta Maria on her marriage in 1625, but it disappeared shortly after Charles I’s execution. The history of its discovery, painstaking restoration and verification is well documented and told in the National Gallery’s youtube channel film for its 2011 exhibition Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan.

Here is the full picture:

Leonardo da Vinci, Salvator Mundi. Oil on walnut panel. Panel dimensions 25 1316 x 17 1516 in (65.5 x 45.1 cm) top; 17¾ in (45.6 cm) bottom; Painted image dimensions 15⅜ x 17½ in (64.5 x 44.7 cm). Estimate on request. This work will be offered as a special lot in the Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale on 15 November at Christie’s in New

And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Saviour of the World.’ (Gospel of John, 4:14)
The painting is to be auctioned next month at Christie’s in New York and is expected to realise $100m.

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