Salvator Mundi – History, Facts and Before After Resurrection






“Salvator Mundi” is a captivating masterpiece attributed to the genius of the Italian Renaissance, Leonardo da Vinci. Created around 1500, this iconic painting showcases the artistic brilliance and spiritual depth characteristic of da Vinci’s work.

Salvator mundi - Facts

The central figure in “Salvator Mundi” is Jesus Christ, portrayed as the Savior of the World. He gazes serenely at the viewer, his right hand raised in a gesture of blessing, while his left hand cradles a transparent orb. The orb symbolizes the Earth and is rendered with remarkable precision, revealing a delicate play of light and distortion as it refracts through the crystal.

Leonardo’s attention to detail is evident in the meticulous rendering of Christ’s features—his flowing auburn hair, softly draped robes, and the subtle shadows and highlights that create a lifelike three-dimensional effect. The face of Christ is marked by an aura of tranquility and wisdom, capturing a sense of divine serenity.

The background of the painting is a dark, almost infinite space, emphasizing the ethereal and otherworldly nature of the divine subject. The use of sfumato, a technique mastered by da Vinci, contributes to the soft blending of colors and the creation of a seamless transition between light and shadow.

“Salvator Mundi” was lost to the art world for centuries before its rediscovery in 2005. Despite some controversy and debates over its attribution, the painting’s significance lies not only in its artistic excellence but also in its representation of Leonardo’s exploration of the divine and the connection between the spiritual and the earthly realms. The delicate balance of realism and spiritual symbolism makes “Salvator Mundi” a timeless masterpiece that continues to captivate art enthusiasts and scholars alike.

Who resurrect Salvator Mundi

Dianne Modestini salvator mundi

Dianne Modestini, an art conservator, played a crucial role in the restoration of Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi.” Modestini cleaned, restored, and preserved the masterpiece, and she shared details about her 10-year restoration process during a lecture at the Samek Distinguished Lecture Series.

Here are key points about Modestini’s involvement in resurrecting Salvator Mundi:

Initial Encounter:

In 2005, an art collector, friend, and colleague of Modestini and her late husband, Mario, called her to examine a painting he had purchased at an estate sale. The painting turned out to be the “Salvator Mundi.”

Condition upon Discovery:

Modestini observed damages to the painting, including grotesque repainting of the face, repainted curls, and parts of the dark background that had been scraped off. Despite the damages, pieces of the original masterpiece were still visible.

Restoration Efforts:

Over the course of three years, Modestini worked to remove damages and restore the painting. She believed 100% that the painting was by Leonardo da Vinci due to the technique employed in the original work.

Scientific and Technological Contributions:

Modestini discussed the use of science and technology in painting restoration and identification, including techniques like X-ray and infrared imaging. However, she emphasized that authentication ultimately relies on old-fashioned connoisseurship and judging the painting by the artist’s style.

Recognition and Price:

Modestini’s restoration work has been widely praised, although she admits to feeling a bit uneasy when looking at the restored painting. She also commented on the record-breaking price of the artwork, questioning the valuation of art and expressing gratitude that the painting will be available for scholars and students to study.

In summary, Dianne Modestini is credited with identifying, authenticating, and restoring the “Salvator Mundi,” contributing significantly to its resurrection and subsequent sale as the world’s most expensive painting.


Rarely known facts about Salvator Mundi

Rediscovery in an Auction:

Salvator Mundi was rediscovered in 2005 when it was auctioned as a “workshop of Leonardo” for less than $10,000. It was only later, after extensive restoration and research, that it was attributed to Leonardo da Vinci himself.

Change in Appearance:

The painting underwent significant changes during restoration. Layers of overpaint and varnish were removed, revealing a more vivid color palette and intricate details, altering its appearance from the state in which it was originally found.

Mystery Buyer:

The identity of the buyer at the 2017 auction, who purchased Salvator Mundi for a record-breaking sum, was initially kept secret. It was later revealed to be Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia. However, questions surround the current location and condition of the painting.

Scientific Analysis:

Scientific examinations, including infrared imaging and pigment analysis, were conducted during the restoration process to understand Leonardo’s techniques and verify the painting’s authenticity.

Symbolism of the Orb:

The transparent orb held by Christ in Salvator Mundi is a symbol of the Earth. Some art historians suggest that the imperfections in the orb, including a peculiar distortion, may symbolize the fragility and imperfection of the world.

Unique Drapery:

The drapery in Salvator Mundi is noteworthy for its intricate detailing and folds. Leonardo’s meticulous observation of fabric and light is evident in the delicate rendering of the robes.

Similarity to Other Works:

Some art experts have noted similarities between Salvator Mundi and Leonardo’s other works, particularly in the treatment of hands and facial features. This has contributed to the ongoing debate about the extent of Leonardo’s direct involvement in the painting.

Unusual Perspective:

Salvator Mundi features an unconventional three-quarter view of Christ’s face, a departure from the traditional frontal pose often used in religious art of the time.
Potential Influence on St. John the Baptist:

Some scholars propose that Salvator Mundi may have influenced Leonardo’s later work, “St. John the Baptist,” particularly in the depiction of Christ’s enigmatic expression.

Connection to Louis XII:

There are historical records suggesting that Leonardo may have been commissioned to paint a “Christ among the Apostles” for King Louis XII of France, which could potentially be related to Salvator Mundi.

Before and after Salvator Mundi resurrect

The story of “Salvator Mundi” involves a remarkable transformation before and after its resurrection, with Dianne Modestini’s restoration efforts playing a pivotal role.

Before Resurrection:
“Salvator Mundi,” painted by Leonardo da Vinci circa 1500, had a tumultuous history before its resurrection. The artwork resurfaced and vanished multiple times throughout history, leaving behind various copies created by different artists over centuries. Sketches of the work by da Vinci himself, including one in Windsor Castle, provided evidence of its existence. In 2005, an art collector acquired the painting at an estate sale and called upon Dianne Modestini for her expertise.

Upon initial examination, Modestini discovered significant damages due to failed conservation and cleaning attempts. The face had been grotesquely repainted, curls on one side of the face were altered, and parts of the dark background had been scraped off. However, despite these challenges, fragments of the original masterpiece remained visible, hinting at the potential for restoration.

During Resurrection:
Over the course of the next ten years, Dianne Modestini dedicated herself to the meticulous restoration of “Salvator Mundi.” Her restoration efforts were aimed at undoing the damages and revealing the true brilliance of Leonardo’s original work. This involved delicate work to remove the repainted layers, repair damages, and restore the painting to its former glory.

During this restoration process, Modestini carefully uncovered the hidden details of the artwork, including the blessing hand that was perfectly preserved, curls on one side that remained untouched, and other elements that had not been repainted. Through her expertise, she came to believe unequivocally that the painting was an authentic work by Leonardo da Vinci, citing the distinctive technique employed in its creation.

After Resurrection:
Following the resurrection of “Salvator Mundi,” the painting underwent a remarkable transformation. What was once obscured by layers of repainting and damage was now revealed in its original splendor. The masterpiece, now authenticated and restored, gained widespread recognition and acclaim in the art world.

In November 2017, the resurrected “Salvator Mundi” made history by being sold for a record-breaking $450 million, making it the world’s most expensive painting. The buyer, later revealed to be the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, intended for the artwork to be the cornerstone of Abu Dhabi’s new Louvre.

The restoration not only brought “Salvator Mundi” back to life but also sparked discussions about the intersection of art, history, and valuation. Dianne Modestini’s dedication and skill in resurrecting this masterpiece ensured its place in the spotlight and its continued availability for scholars and students to study and appreciate for generations to come.

FAQs About Salvator Mundi

What is the size of Salvator Mundi?

The size of Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” is approximately 25.8 inches by 17.8 inches (65.4 cm by 45.4 cm). This measurement represents the dimensions of the painting itself, without including any frame or additional elements. Keep in mind that specific measurements may vary slightly depending on the source, as the painting has undergone restoration and conservation efforts over the years, and there might be variations in recorded dimensions.

What are the Unique Features of Salvator Mundi?

“Salvator Mundi” is known for its meticulous attention to detail, including the translucent crystal orb, the intricate curls of Christ’s hair, and the delicate sfumato technique for which Leonardo was renowned.

When was Salvator Mundi painted?

It is believed that Leonardo da Vinci created Salvator Mundi around the year 1500.

What is the subject of Salvator Mundi?

The subject of Salvator Mundi is Jesus Christ depicted as the Savior of the World. He is shown blessing with one hand and holding a transparent orb in the other.

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