FOUND: Long Lost Leonardo Masterpiece

The art world has always held rich potential for fascinating history and anecdotes. Add this to the list for the year: an obscure painting by Leonardo da Vinci that was lost for centuries has now been
authenticated by Western scholars, and will be exhibited at London's National Gallery as part of a Leonardo
show that opens November 9.

The painting in question, titled Salvator Mundi or "Savior of the World", is a brooding depiction of Christ
with his right hand raised and his left hand holding a
globe. It is painted in oil on a wood panel and measures 26 by 18 1/2
inches. "It's up there with any artistic discovery of the last 100 years," said one scholar.

The work is currently owned by a consortium of dealers, including Robert Simon, a
specialist in Old Masters in New York. It was
reportedly bought at an estate sale in the US about six or
seven years ago. Simon declined to comment about the painting, the
price, or the location of the auction. "I've been asked not to discuss
it," he said.

The restoration and verification process was a long and convoluted one. Robert Simon first brought the panel to the Metropolitan Museum of Art about two
years ago to have it examined by curators and conservators.

 

Salvator Mundi

"It
was brought in for inspection in the conservation studio," said a person
close to the Metropolitan who asked not to be identified. "The painting
was forgotten for years. When it turned up at auction, Simon thought it
was worth taking a gamble. It had been heavily overpainted, which makes
it look like a copy."

"It was a wreck, dark and gloomy. It had been
cleaned many times in the past by people who didn't know better. Once a
restorer put artificial resin on it, which had turned gray and had to be
removed painstakingly. When they took off the overpaint, what was
revealed was the original paint. You saw incredibly delicate painting.
All agree it was painted by Leonardo."

It was also brought to the National Gallery in London about 18 months
ago. Nicholas Penny, director of the museum, and Luke Syson, curator of
the forthcoming exhibition, invited four Leonardo scholars to see the
work in the museum's conservation studio. "

"There was a lot of excitement," said a scholar who was briefed on the
session. "Some were somewhat reticent, but there was general acceptance.
Christ's garment is painted in blue with a miraculous softness."

The National Gallery show, which will showcase the lost painting and run through February 5, 2012,
examines Leonardo's years at the court of Ludovico Sforza, ruler of
Milan.

Via [ArtInfo]

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