Yesterday saw a world record break for any work of art sold at auction. The salvator mundi was sold for $450.3m, including auction house premium, by an anonymous buyer in the auction at Christie’s in New York. “Salvator Mundi” (“Savior of the World”) is one of fewer than 20 known paintings by da Vinci, and the only one in private hands.
Though I can hold a good conversation about beauty and art, I know little about its sale and purchase. So I reserve my comments about the heartburn that just the mention of the purchase sum gives to me.
But there’s been and still are tons of hype about it. Lots of hype about the painting, the painter, and especially about the 500 years of history behind it. The salvator mundi has gone on display in Hong Kong, London, San Francisco and New York. Thousands of people have gone to see it before its final sale.
If 500 years’ worth of history can cause this, how much more should 2000 years’ worth of history do? I, who believe not just in the painter, nor in the authenticity of the painting BUT in the figure – CHRIST painted by Da Vinci, what is my reaction? Does my belief lead me to act thus? How does it affect my day to day life?
Add to this, the lot of talk and analysis to ascertain if it’s an authentic Leonardo’s.
Modestini, who restored the salvator mundi commented that ‘I shudder to think what might have been used’ in the grotesque repaintings of the painting. The varnish was “sticky and uneven” with crude touch-ups, quite possibly the work of “the owner or a local amateur”.
She didn’t stop at shudder though. Modestini then professionally restored the Salvator Mundi. Despite some damage to the face, the flesh tones fortunately retain their layer structure. She stabilised the picture, removed most of the later overpaint and fillings, and made cosmetic changes to bring it back closer to Leonardo’s original.
O salvator mundi, this is one more wakeup call from you. Your silent and gentle honk has pierced my indifference. I’ve hidden your face behind countless ‘what would they say? Why should I bother them by revealing You?’. I’ve repainted your face by my many small inconsistencies, so much so that recognition of You is almost impossible.
This is my conclusion, my resolution;
I’ll restore your image that I carry within me, o salvator mundi. I’ll do a more meticulous work than what Modestini has done to your painting. So that the others can see and appreciate the real You. And I’ll take you beyond Hong Kong and New York. I’ll take you everywhere so that everyone can see you and be conquered by your charm and your grace. And I won’t look too far – I’ll start with my friends and family.