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Still Waters

Christ's orb mystery in da Vinci painting

30 posts in this topic

Just now, Khaemwaset said:

I agree the price is obscene.  There's no other word for it, when so many people struggle just to survive and there is so much actual need which isn't addressed.

For people who don't like the look of the picture and doubt its authorship because of that, all I can say is that this is often the case when looking at an older artform with modern eyes.  Take a look at the some older Hollywood films and ask yourself, with your modern eyes, what was so great about this film, or what made this film so funny.  It's not easy understanding the context and viewership of older works of art.  In Leonardo's case, there are less than 20 paintings by his hand to compare this to.  His drawings and notebooks are full of scientific observation and exactitude, but the paintings are different: he alters, idealizes, and changes nature for the purposes of the picture.  Look at the portrait of Ginevra di Benci in the National Gallery, Washington.  An early work, it is stiff and oddly unconvincing as an actual person, as opposed (say) to "The Girl with the Ermine" in Krakow, which is very naturalistic. Look at his trees in the Washington picture...they ascribe to a convention of the time, not to nature.  Then on the other hand, compare the handling of the representation of Christ's garments and hair in the Salvator Mundi with those elements in the Mona Lisa (which btw was painted more or less contemporaneously)...they are very close indeed, as are the treatment of the hands.

The gaze in the eyes of Christ in this picture is slightly unnerving...something which really threw me off when I first saw it.  Those pupils don't line up with a natural gaze, the way they should.  The restorers declare that there are no paint losses in this area...that is: this is how Leonardo wanted them to look.  I pondered this for a while, while 'believing' in the rest of the picture.  The Christie's people address this point by saying that Leonardo may not have wanted the viewer to 'connect' eye-to-eye with Jesus(God), and therefore purposely painted the pupils slightly askew so that the mystical aspect of God and his remoteness would be subconsciously grasped by the viewer as he/she tries to connect with that gaze.  This particular issue still bothers me...in spite of the fact that I'm quite sure Leonardo painted it, and (if the restorers didn't overclean this area of the eyes) that he wanted to convey this uneasy effect.

Personally, I'm very familar with his work, and with his pupils, as in followers, and fairly familiar with some of the works 'after' him. Amd that's what this is. It looks a padtiche of his work. And I don't accept the pupil, as in eye, suggestion above. 

This is a fairly competent style of Leonardo painting. 

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11 hours ago, oldrover said:

Personally, I'm very familar with his work, and with his pupils, as in followers, and fairly familiar with some of the works 'after' him. Amd that's what this is. It looks a padtiche of his work. And I don't accept the pupil, as in eye, suggestion above. 

This is a fairly competent style of Leonardo painting. 

I too have trouble accepting the 'eye' suggestions as set forth by Christie's.  As you know by now, I do think the work authentic to DaVinci, so there we must disagree.  I have personally thought, since 2011 when I first saw the cleaned picture, that paint losses (likely dating from long ago, due to abrasive mishandling of some sort) resulted in revelation of pentimenti in the pupils, giving them this unnatural appearance so very obvious in the present condition.  However, the restorers declare no losses here, but I would suggest that a damaged condition was likely the primary reason for the old overpainting of the face. 

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It's probably one of Leo's many 'unfinished' body of work, he was notoriously slow and was ever late to complete any one piece of painting, or sculpture or whatever. Took him years and in a few cases .. decades.

Even now whether most of his works were actually 'completed' is debatable. 
 

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5 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Leonardo da Vinci

Dec 18, 2014 - This chalk drawing by da Vinci is believed to be a self portrait. ... Da Vinci was a notoriously slow painter, and many of his works were never ...
Jul 18, 2017 - Painter, writer, inventor, sculptor, musician – Leonardo da Vinci was one .... The foremost of which was that da Vinci's remarkably slow process ...

Artists have been riffing on Leonardo da Vinci's “The Last Supper” for decades, from Salvador Dali's 1955 painting to Brazilian artist Vik Muniz's chocolate-syrup ...

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Latest:

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Saudi crown prince 'is real buyer' of painting by Leonardo da Vinci

US intelligence identifies Mohammed bin Salman, powerful heir to Saudi throne, as man behind $450m purchase at auction

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2017/dec/07/world-record-da-vinci-painting-to-be-exhibited-at-louvre-abu-dhabi

 

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I'm glad it will be in a place where it can be conserved and enjoyed by many.

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