Da Vinci. The name that resonates around the world as one the greatest artists to have walked to Earth. It isn’t everyday that one of his works comes up for sale. In fact, it’s more of a ‘once in a lifetime’ kind of thing, so pretty major really.
You may or may not have heard the last Da Vinci painting in private hands, entitled Salvator Mundi (Saviour of the World), is up for sale at Christie’s auction house with a starting price of £100,000 million. It goes without saying that we were pretty excited to see it.
The Back Story
The history of the painting, which has been referred to as the “male Mona Lisa”, can be traced back to the collection of Charles I, one of our more enthusiastic royal patrons of the arts. It is thought to have hung in the bedroom of Henrietta Maria, the King’s wife, at her palace in Greenwich. It has a rather mysterious past, disappearing for over two centuries and resurfacing in 1900 when it was bought by Sir Charles Robinson for the Cook collection. Having been heavily overpainted at this point in its history, the painting was attributed to a follower of Da Vinci and not to the man himself. It wasn’t until 2011 when it was revealed, after much research and conservation, that it was the real deal.
Not your average guy
Da Vinci clearly thought carefully about who he was painting and has managed to infuse a sense that you are really looking at The Divine. Using his signature style of sfumato, he softly blends the colours and hues giving the figure a very mystical, magical appearance. He masks any tangible presence of a beard and there is a lack of creases at the corners of Christ’s eyes, making him appear both youthful as well as godly and immortal. His transfixing amber eyes appear truly omniscient, shifting between a soft, tender gaze and a penetrating all-seeing stare.
Christ lifts his right hand, blessing the viewer, and in his left hand he holds what looks like a glass sphere. It is this object that gives the painting its title – the sphere represents the world, symbolising Christ’s dominion of the heavens and the earth and role as Salvator Mundi. If you look closely, there are small air bubbles in the lower right side of the orb making us question – is it glass or a liquid? You decide.
500 years on, Da Vinci’s technical detail and skill with the paintbrush once again does not fail to impress. Let’s hope that if the painting isn’t scooped up by a public institution, its new owner will want to share his/her new acquisition with the rest of the world. It would be terribly sad for such a masterpiece to be hidden for another few hundred years.
Could we hope, in this case, for a bit of divine intervention…?