Why is Salvator Mundi called the most controversial painting in the world?

Many of the paintings have been described as “the most controversial”. Salvator Mundi (produced after 1500; “savior of the world”) is only the most recent to have this title. After the artwork was sold as the previously-lost Leonardo da Vinci in 2017 for $450.3 million — the highest price ever paid for an artwork at auction — it has come under intense scrutiny. Perhaps the reason for this interest was the exorbitant amount paid for a painting with a number of serious defects, which, in theory, should have kept the auction price in check. These include issues Salvator MundiPoor case, controversial attribution, and uncertain date.

When two New York merchants buy… Salvator Mundi And in 2005, at a small auction in New Orleans, it was in poor condition. The piece has not been adequately restored and is heavily painted over. Moreover, its wooden supports were infested with worms. The dealers took the work to renowned art restorer Diane Modestini, who oversaw the reconstruction of the abutment and then stripped off the excess paint and filled in the missing parts. And yet, despite Modestini’s best efforts, the painting still looks rather odd, in my opinion. The face of Christ, the centerpiece of the piece, remains ghostly, his features weak. The painting certainly does not evoke the same contemplation or admiration as Leonardo’s other works.

While many critics later noted that Salvator Mundi It contains such interesting passages, including the soft design of Jesus’ right hand and the subtlety of his tight curls, that they doubted whether the work was entirely by Leonardo. Attribution is still a topic of debate among scholars and critics. Those who question the painting’s attribution to Leonardo consider not only the depiction of Jesus as such Weak featuresbut they also describe A harsh face-to-face composition And unlike Leonardo It forms a characteristic twist. other, incl Michael DalyThe director of ArtWatch UK pointed out the unmasked representation of the glass globe in the hands of Jesus. If it was made of solid glass, the ball would distort the view of its owner. The artist, known for his extensive scientific studies, was aware of this type of optical phenomenon. Auctioneers Christie’s, which managed the record sale, dismissed the criticism. And confirmed that there “broad consensus” Scholars say the work was by Leonardo. actually, News reports in 2021 He described an undisclosed document from the Louvre confirming the painting’s attribution to Leonardo after careful scientific analysis. but because Salvator Mundi It was never shown in the museum (as was planned). Leonardo exhibition 2019), the law prohibits officials from discussing the valuation or documentation of privately owned businesses. Thus, there is no official record of the painting’s official attribution.

Christie provided a story in its promotional materials Where the painting appeared in 1650 in the records of the inventory of Charles I of England. But this claim has always been shaky and journalistic Investigated by Ben Lewis affiliate Salvator MundiThe provenance (date of ownership of the piece) casts doubt on this point, suggesting that the work included in Charles I’s inventory was a different panel with icons of Salvator. In fact, a copy of the painting in the Pushkin Museum in Moscow was once part of the English Royal Collection, because it is stamped “CR” (for Carolus Rex) on the back of its backing. It is most likely that this painting attributed to Giampietrino, a student of Leonardo, It is indicated in the inventory of Charles I. Hence, there are no confirmed records of nearly half a billion dollars Salvator Mundi The painting until 1900, when it was acquired by Sir John Charles Robinson for the Sir Francis Cook Collection in London. This means that the provenance has a gap of about 400 years between the painting’s supposed creation and its appearance on the market.

Perhaps the standard sale of artwork with such serious defects is one reason why Salvator Mundi It is the latest artwork to be called “most controversial”. Issues with the painting are further explored in works such as The Book of Lewis The Last Leonardo: The Secret Life of the World’s Most Expensive Painting (2019) and the documentary The missing Leonardo (2021).

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