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Louvre Abu Dhabi to unveil 'Salvator Mundi' on Sept 18

Jasmine Al Kuttab/Dubai
Filed on June 28, 2018 | Last updated on June 28, 2018 at 07.25 am
Louvre Abu Dhabi to unveil Salvator Mundi on Sept 18

(Reuters)

The painting sold for $450 million during a record-breaking auction in New York at Christie's in November.

Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece, Salvator Mundi, will finally be unveiled in Louvre Abu Dhabi on September 18.

Officials made the major announcement on Wednesday, after a much-anticipated wait of the artwork's unveiling by art lovers and those who appreciate the works by the master painter and genius, Leonardo da Vinci. 

Salvator Mundi is one of fewer than 20 known surviving paintings by the Italian Renaissance master, one of history's greatest and most renowned artists, and is his final work to enter into a cultural institution's collection.

After its unveiling at the Louvre Abu Dhabi in September, the Salvator Mundi is scheduled to be loaned to Musée du Louvre in Paris, where it will form part of the Leonardo da Vinci exhibition which will run from October 24 2019 to February 24 2020. 

However, Salvator Mundi is planned to return to Abu Dhabi after the exhibition, and will be on display again at the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

Mohamed Khalifa Mubarak, Chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi, told Khaleej Times that having the magnificent artwork in the hands of the UAE, is certainly a monumental moment in the history of art.

"It means a great deal. This is a very exciting moment for Abu Dhabi, as we welcome the world to witness the unveiling of a masterpiece by one of the most important artists in history In Abu Dhabi."

He said Salvator Mundi highlights the inclusive nature of Louvre Abu Dhabi's narrative and Abu Dhabi's mission to promote a message of acceptance, and openness. 

"Having spent so long undiscovered, this masterpiece is now our gift to the world and we look forward to welcoming visitors from across the globe to witness its beauty, when it is unveiled at Louvre Abu Dhabi in September 2018."

Al Mubarak pointed out that the painting was acquired by DCT Abu Dhabi as it represents the work of one of the "most influential figures of all time." 

He added that Leonardo da Vinci broke away from the artistic standards of his day, thus guided generations of artists after his time.

"He is among the most influential artists in history, having left a significant legacy not only in the realm of art, but in science as well, each discipline informing his mastery of the other."

Al Mubarak said Abu Dhabi is quickly blossoming into a hub for art and culture, and will continue to do so.

"Abu Dhabi has always been home to a rich cultural heritage and our leadership has always had a strong focus on the power and importance of protecting that heritage and supporting the creative community."

"Since the establishment of the first museum in the UAE in Al Ain upon the unification of our nation, Abu Dhabi has seen major milestone moments in the development of this cultural hub, such as the opening of Louvre Abu Dhabi, the acquisition of Salvator Mundi, and the ongoing development of Saadiyat Cultural District."

Al Mubarak said these milestones are representative of the nation's dedication to promoting Abu Dhabi's rich cultural heritage and sustaining its growing art scene.

"Side by side with the diverse vibrancy of cultures it embraces, and from within its distinctive location in the world," he added.

A 500-year-old treasure 

Dating from around 1490-1515, Salvator Mundi is an oil on panel painting, executed onto a walnut panel, depicting a half-length figure of Christ as Saviour of the World, facing the viewer, and dressed in flowing robes of lapis and crimson. 

The figure holds a crystal orb in his left hand as he raises his right hand in benediction. 

It is believed to be a contemporary of both La Belle Ferronnière and the Mona Lisa. 

Da Vinci's knowledge of optics is also evident in the representation of the orb, which is rendered with beautiful scientific precision.

Salvator Mundi's rediscovery

The rediscovery of Salvator Mundi is one of the most significant artistic findings in recent history, as the first discovery of a painting by Leonardo da Vinci since 1909, when the Benois Madonna, now in the Hermitage, St. Petersburg, was attributed to the artist.

The unveiling of the artwork ahead of its sale at Christie's New York, drew worldwide interest. 

Throughout the painting's tour of Hong Kong, London, San Francisco, and New York, over 27,000 people viewed the work, setting a record for the highest ever number of pre-sale viewers for an individual work of art, according to Christie's.

According to experts, Salvator Mundi may have been created for the French royal family before being brought to England by Queen Henrietta Maria, when she married Charles I.

The work was in the collection of King Charles I (1600-1649), where it is recorded in the inventory of the Royal collection.

Presumed to have been destroyed, Salvator Mundi was rediscovered in 2007, when restoration was undertaken by Dianne Dwyer Modestini, Senior Research fellow and Conservator.

Since the initial restoration phase was completed in 2007, the painting has been studied by leading authorities on Leonardo da Vinci, which resulted in an unequivocal attribution to the most important painter of the Renaissance, and one of the most significant figures in the history of art.  

jasmine@khaleejtimes.com

 





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