“SALVATOR MUNDI” $450.3 Million Sale
The price at which “SALVATOR MUNDI” has been sold to an anonymous bidder has surprised many. For it got sold a $400 million, plus $50.3 million in commission has everyone wondering and in search for an explanation. The Art world is thrilled at such a huge price tag, for that before this the previous record for art sold in an auction was $ 179.4 million for a piece so in 2015. It five times or more for the highest price ever paid for an old masters. $76.7 million for a Rubens in 2012.
No doubt “Salvator Mundi” must be very rare, which is debatable, for the other known Leonardo, are all in museums. Its known to have royal provenance, said to be commissioned by king louis XII of France, owned by Charles land II of England. The painting passed through obscurity for three centuries till it was to be rediscovered in 2005. The work is generally accepted as a real de Vinci, however many doubts are expressed by various scholars to its authority and originally.
Critic Jason Farago it was, “a proficient but not especially distinguished Religious picture from turn-of-the-16th century Lombardy, put through a wringer of restorations”. The more recent known history of this masterpiece is also very shady. It was put on Sale by the family trust of Dmitry Rebolovlev, a Russian billionaire living in Monaco, who is in the famous lawsuit against the Swiss dealer who is in litigation against him who over years helped the family a mass a huge art collection, including ‘Salvator Mundi’. The same trust bought an 18 bedrooms mansion called ‘Maison de L’Amitie’ from the one only Donald Trump in 2008.
The shocking price of $450.3 million paid for the only know Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519) Italian painter, sculptor, architect, musician, engineer, mathematician, and scientist is still considered one of the greatest intellects in the history of mankind. He has been called by many historians as a man with the most inquiring mind of all times. Often is credited with being the initiator of the Renaissance, which moved Europe out of the Dark ages.
Leonardo saw mystery everywhere and delved deep to understand it, studied earth, sky and the heavens herein. He recorded the movement of stars and drew up plans for flying machines 400 years before the first plan flew. He was a great architect and artist who studied nature and human personality. His portraits of faces are most well-known, embodying a reality that captured every essence of his subjects. Much has been written on how magnificent of his famous “The Last Supper”.
Leonardo encouraged us all to have balance in our lives, regardless of our pursuits. He said, “Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgement will be surer, since to remain constantly at work will cause you to lose power of judgement… Go some distance away because the work appears smaller and more of it can be taken in at a glance, and a lack of harmony or proportion is more readily seen”.
Back to his painting, reportedly purchased at an estate sale in 2005 of or less than $ 10,000, was originally considered a copy of a lost Leonardo, completed end of 1500. Over time, its wood surface became cracked and chafed, and it had been crudely over painted. It is reportedly cleaned by the conservator Dianne Dwyer Modestmi. The painting now appears in neither original state and in between though partially imagined rehabilitations.
According to Jason Farogo critic notebook, authentication is a very serious but subjective business, that he is not man to affirm or reject its attribution. Its accepted as an original Leonardo by many serious scholars, though not all. His opinion after looking at it from the crowd which saw its road show by Christies, is that most engaging passages are in the embroidered blue gown that Jesus Christ wears. The robe’s folds are supple and sinuous, and the trim, zigzagged with an elaborate and unbroken knotting pattern, has a mathematical intricacy that gives this very Christian Western painting a surprising Islamic touch. [Technical analysis confirms that Leonardo used pure lapis lazuli (Afghan) for the robe, rather than cheaper azurite).
The orb that supposedly Jesus Christ is seen hold in his left hand, symbolizing his dominion over all creation, is not making sense, why for example, are the images passing through the crystal orb in our Great Prophet Jesus hand not inverted, as a keen scientific observer like Leonardo would surely have noted? The curly hair, especially the lower tresses framing the neckline, has certain corkscrew adeptness, though it is not as proficient as the similarly kinky locks of Leonardo’s recently restored “St. John the Baptist”, at the Louvre in Paris, or Botticelli’s slightly earlier “Portrait of a lady”. At the Städel in Frankfurt. Forago goes on to state, yet there is meekness and monotony to “Salvatore Mundi” that cannot be redeemed by these marginally engaging details. The savior of the world appears in this painting as a soft, spumy cipher. His eyes are blank. His chin flecked with stubble, recedes into shadow. The raised right hand is stiffer and less sensate than John the Baptist’s, and over lit relative to this shaded cheeks and mouth.
And unlike other Leonardo portraits. “St. John the Baptist” and the Mona Lisa”, or the alluring “Lady with an Ermine or “La Belle Ferron ire” here the subject appears head-on, flattened into the picture frame like a medieval icon painting. It’s a genius of salesmanship and branding by Christies as after road shows and use of outside agency for advertising, it was displayed in a darkened gallery under spotlights, framed by a pair of security guards wearing funeral black. It was presented as a holy relic. Christies has done the unimaginable as it marketing department rolled out the superlatives alongside, sending it on a world tour and hyping it with the rather sacrilegious nickname of “the male Mona Lisa”.
This fantasy of individual genius was offer, a fantasy more seductive and enduring than any in Western art. It can infuse even the driest of pictures with the illusion of greatness, and the price tags this floated, too, can imbue word a day art with new weight. But reputations rise and fall, attributions are assigned and reconsidered, and money-well, money cannot buy you everything. When its new owner gazes at “Salvator Mundi” over the masterpiece (or, more likely, visits it in climate controlled, tax free storage facility), he or she may have cause to reflect on the Gospel of Luke. “Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled”, in tones the man in the $450 million picture. “But woe unto you that are rich! For ye have received your consolation”.
No matter what, the price payed by the anonymous buyer, is a huge landmark for the world of Arts. How Leonardo would be feeling if it truly is this work, which to my not so critical or trained mind is an aberration as it is a depiction of our Great Prophet Jesus, whom he could not have seen after 15 centuries of his presence, which is sacrosanct to date. So, it is not an original portrait in the first place, but its western and Christian art, which is not a lot, but very highly priced.
In comparison, Islamic Art of the same era is breath taking and the beauty, design and craftsmanship has got not parallel. Most of the great pieces of Art in the form of work on the Qur’ans, calligraphy, miniature arts, metal, wood and textiles of our Sub-Continent, sold as Indian, Mughal and even Oriental is of tremendous beauty and no controversy. My fascination with metal works of the era of Leonardo, before and after cannot be compared with the eye and hand coordination to make great pieces of art, which were used for not just for adoration and wall hangings of murals, but for use in the home of people with great nobility and distinction. Some of the bronze, brass, silver pieces sold now in major auction houses as Mughal are exquisite beauty, un-comparable with what any great master did paint on whatever base, as the effort, skill, and time required to make perfect geomatical and mathematical designs on each and every piece took months and years to make.
We have a legacy to protect and honor our ancestral richness, we have a known history of 6000 years and its high time we started appreciating our rich and glorious past, full of riches and great arts created for us to cherish and live up to. This new precedent should renew our interest in our past artists and show case who we truly are. BPakistani.
Categories: Culture & Tradition