Friday, November 3, 2017

Only One Leonardo

Leonardo da Vinci (1452 - 1519), Salvator Mundi, c. 1500, 
oil on walnut panel, 
 25 7/8 x 18 in. (66.7 x 45.7 cm) 
Private Collection
Photograph:  Courtesy of Christie's

The news of a Leonardo da Vinci (1452 - 1519) painting going on sale is a major event.  Leonardo was in a class by himself.  He was the consummate polymath - artist, inventor, engineer, scientist, writer, musician and much more.  Although known as a painter more than anything else, fewer than twenty extant paintings have been in part or entirely attributed to him.  Only one can be seen in the United States: his portrait of Ginevra de' Benci in the collection of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.   

Leonardo da Vinci (1452 - 1519 ), Ginevra de' Benci, c. 1474/1478, 
oil on panel, original panel only:  15 x 14 9/16 in. (38.1 x 37 cm),  with addition at bottom edge:  16 13/16 x 14 9/16 in. (42.7 x 37 cm)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Photograph:  National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC Web site

Now another is going on public view.  The artist's Salvator Mundi will be auctioned on November 15, 2017 at Christie's New York Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale. From November 4 through 15 the work will be on display at the auction house.   

Far less well known than his Mona Lisa and Last Supper, the two most famous and reproduced paintings in the history of art, the work depicts Christ as "Savior of the World" described in I. John 4:14:  "And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent His Son to be the Savior of the world."  "Salvator Mundi" is "Latin for Savior of the World."   The painting was long known and documented since the seventeenth century.  It was thought to have been destroyed when its whereabouts became lost in the late 1950s.  By this time the work was attributed to a follower then a student of the master.  Flaws in the painting's supporting wood panel necessitated extensive overpainting.  The work was in bad shape.  

More to come.

Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi
Post-War & Contemporary Art 
Evening Sale
November 15, 2017 at 7:00 pm
Admission to this sale is by ticket only.
20 Rockefeller Plaza, Manhattan
Public Viewing:  
November 4, 2017 - November 15, 2017
Monday - Saturday 10 am - 5 pm
Sundays 1 pm - 5 pm
November 15, 2017 10 am - 12 noon

Coda:  Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi sold for $450,312,500 at Christie's Post War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale on November 15, 2017.   The price included Christie's Buyer's Premium - the additional amount a buyer pays to the auction house.  The Leonardo netted Christie's over $50,000,000.  The sale was the highest price ever paid for a painting at auction.  The bidding lasted a bit less that 20 minutes.  The anonymous purchaser made the final offer via the phone to Christie's co-chair Alex Rotter who relayed the winning bid to the auctioneer.