In 2017, a painting sold for $450.3 million, making it the most expensive painting ever sold at public auction. The painting was Salvator Mundi, and it’s thought to be a lost painting by none other than Leonardo da Vinci, a name you might recognize from the 100% historically accurate film The Da Vinci Code. But here’s the thing: what if Leonardo didn’t actually paint this? Experts are divided, and some believe that, at most, Leonardo only touched up portions of the work and didn’t actually paint the entire thing. The new documentary The Lost Leonardo examines the story behind all of this, and the film’s trailer looks mighty intriguing.
The Lost Leonardo Trailer
I know this might not be as exciting to some people as a new Marvel movie, but I’m hyped for The Lost Leonardo after this trailer. Give me the Mysterious Painting Documentary Cinematic Universe, I say! I’ll eat that shit up. The Lost Leonardo “tells the inside story behind the Salvator Mundi, the most expensive painting ever sold at $450 million, claimed to be a long-lost masterpiece by Leonardo da Vinci. From the moment it is purchased from a shady New Orleans auction house, and its buyers discover masterful brushstrokes beneath its cheap restoration, the fate of the Salvator Mundi is driven by an insatiable quest for fame, money and power. But as its price soars, so do questions about its authenticity. Is this multi-million dollar painting actually by Leonardo – or do certain power players simply want it to be? Unraveling the hidden agendas of the world’s richest men and most powerful art institutions, The Lost Leonardo reveals how vested interests became all-important, and the truth secondary.”
Hell yes, that sounds cool, and I am not being sarcastic. This is the type of stuff I get excited about. The Lost Leonardo comes from director Andreas Koefoed and opens in theaters in New York and Los Angeles on August 13, 2021, with a national release to follow.
So is the Salvator Mundi legit? I haven’t seen the documentary yet, so I don’t know what conclusions are reached there. But according to the always correct Wikipedia, “Christie’s claimed just after selling the work that most leading scholars consider it to be an original work by Leonardo, but this attribution has been disputed by other specialists, some of whom posit that he only contributed certain elements.”
British art historian Charles Hope analyzed the painting in January 2020 and “dismissed the attribution to Leonardo entirely,” saying he doubted that “Leonardo would have painted a work where the eyes were not level,” and adding: “The picture itself is a ruin, with the face much restored to make it reminiscent of the Mona Lisa.”
Frank Zöllner, author of Leonardo da Vinci. The Complete Paintings and Drawings, said:
“This attribution is controversial primarily on two grounds. Firstly, the badly damaged painting had to undergo very extensive restoration, which makes its original quality extremely difficult to assess. Secondly, the Salvator Mundi in its present state exhibits a strongly developed sfumato technique that corresponds more closely to the manner of a talented Leonardo pupil active in the 1520s than to the style of the master himself. The way in which the painting was placed on the market also gave rise to concern.”
Perhaps The Lost Leonardo documentary will help clear things up.
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