Christie’s / Published on Oct 10, 2017
Art critic, Alastair Sooke, investigates the fascinating rediscovery of Leonardo’s Salvator Mundi, one of fewer than 20 surviving paintings accepted as from the artist’s own hand.
In 2011, the dramatic public unveiling of Salvator Mundi (‘Saviour of the World’) in the exhibition Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan at The National Gallery in London caused a worldwide media sensation. Painted by one of history’s greatest and most renowned artists, whose works are exceedingly rare — fewer than 20 paintings in existence are generally accepted as from the artist’s own hand — it was the first discovery of a painting by Leonardo da Vinci since 1909, when the Benois Madonna, now in the Hermitage, St. Petersburg, came to light.
‘Salvator Mundi is a painting of the most iconic figure in the world by the most important artist of all time,’ says Loic Gouzer, Chairman, Post-War and Contemporary Art at Christie’s in New York. ‘The opportunity to bring this masterpiece to the market is an honour that comes around once in a lifetime. Despite being created approximately 500 years ago, the work of Leonardo is just as influential to the art that is being created today as it was in the 15th and 16th centuries. We felt that offering this painting within the context of our Post-War and Contemporary Evening Sale is a testament to the enduring relevance of this picture.’