Long-Lost Leonardo Da Vinci Painting to Be Unveiled

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Leonardo da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi"

A previously lost painting by Leonardo Da Vinci has been identified and restored. It is to be displayed at the London National Gallery, along with other works, for the Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan exhibition, taking place from November 9, 2011 to February 5, 2012.

The painting, Salvator Mundi (Savior of the World), depicts Christ raising a right hand in blessing and the other holding a globe. It’s set on a wooden panel in oil and measures 26 by 18.5 inches, which is similar in size to da Vinci’s St. John the Baptist, which resides in the Louvre, Paris, the same museum as his Mona Lisa, which you might have heard of.

Not that the new painting’s value needed a boost, but experts have also confirmed that it was once owned by King Charles I and, later, his son Charles II, which was proved through the documentation of Wenceslaus Hollar’s engraving from the 1750s.

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After this, the ownership of Salvator Mundi went undocumented until the 19th century, when it was acquired by Sir Francis Cook, a British collector seemingly unaware that it was da Vinci’s work. In 1958, the piece was sold for £45 at an auction in Sotheby’s of London by trustees of the Cook collection, who mistakenly attributed it to Boltraffio, an Italian Renaissance painter considered da Vinci’s best student.

Much more recently, the painting was found in a private U.S. collection, bought in an American estate sale around seven years ago. As a lost piece that has remained unauthenticated for centuries, it was restored, at least in part by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in the hope of being the work of the great artist, the process proving these speculations correct.

Robert Simon, a specialist in Old Masters in New York, stated that the authentication process took a long time as, “[the painting] has been damaged and overpainted” during previous poor restorations. He added that “the condition is not immaculate, but there is enough to convey an excellent impression”.

What’s more, Simon is also one of the painting’s owners, but he’s had to deny claims that a $100 million offer was refused for the painting in the hope of selling it for twice that amount, declaring firmly that, “as a representative of the owners, I can say that the picture is not on the market”.

And while the discovery and authentication of da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi has been described as one of the greatest artistic discoveries of the century, one wonders if a price will one day be deemed high enough to see the sale take place. (via ARTnews) — Lizzie Galliver

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