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Modern Mysteries

Mystery surrounds $450M da Vinci painting

By T.K. Randall
November 16, 2017 · Comment icon 28 comments



Why does the orb in this painting ignore diffraction and reflection ? Image Credit: Leonardo da Vinci
The 500-year-old painting, which sold for a record-breaking sum at auction, has a few peculiarities.
Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi, or 'Saviour of the World', made waves in the art world recently when it sold for $460 million at auction - making it the most valuable painting in history.

Incredibly, it originally sold in the 1950s for a mere $45 because it was believed to be a copy.

But is the painting really a da Vinci ? In recent years, art experts have hotly debated several key inconsistencies with the piece that suggest that the Renaissance genius may not have created it.

Chief among these is the way that the artist has painted the orb that Jesus is holding.
According to biographer Walter Isaacson, Salvator Mundi was painted when Leonardo was 48 years old - a time of his life when he had been deeply invested in studying physics and optics.

The orb in the painting however does not exhibit the diffraction of light, nor reflection of the hand expected of a glass sphere positioned as it is in the piece.

Da Vinci would have never made such a mistake - at least not accidentally - so could he have left out these details on purpose ? On this possibility, Isaacson wrote that Leonardo may have been "subtly trying to impart a miraculous quality to Christ and his orb."

As things stand however, we may never know for sure.

Source: Telegraph | Comments (28)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #19 Posted by oldrover 5 years ago
Yes. The whole issue of this sort of price, aside from it being obscene, is that it has nothing to do with artistic merit or appreciation. It's an investment, a share that won't go down. Except this is no more a Leonardo than my ****.
Comment icon #20 Posted by Khaemwaset 5 years ago
Here's a couple relevant videos people may like:    
Comment icon #21 Posted by skliss 5 years ago
I remember seeing a show one time on da Vinci and they were saying his paintings are easier to authenticate than many others for two reasons..one is that he was left-handed and two, he used his fingers while painting and they can actually verify his fingerprints from within the dried paint.
Comment icon #22 Posted by hetrodoxly 5 years ago
It's fantastic, the hands are beautiful (i have tried to think of another word but that's what comes into my head) 400,000,000 is obscene the budget of a small country, if it was lost tomorrow nothing in the world would change, that can be equated with football (premiership) players earning Ł200,000 a week if it was stopped tomorrow nothing of any importance would change, if the guys collecting you're rubbish (trash) all stopped it would have a major impact on everyone's life. 
Comment icon #23 Posted by Khaemwaset 5 years ago
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 ... [More]
Comment icon #24 Posted by oldrover 5 years ago
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. 
Comment icon #25 Posted by Khaemwaset 5 years ago
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 o... [More]
Comment icon #26 Posted by third_eye 5 years ago
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.     
Comment icon #27 Posted by Still Waters 5 years ago
Latest:  
Comment icon #28 Posted by skliss 5 years ago
I'm glad it will be in a place where it can be conserved and enjoyed by many.


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