One of the most enduring and iconic images of Christ is the Salvator Mundi, or 'Savior of the World.' It depicts Christ with his right hand raised with crossed fingers while he holds an orb or globe in his left. The globe represents Earth, with Christ offering a benediction over it.
Salvator Mundi has been a great topic of discussion in recent years due to the re-discovery of a circa 1490 example by Leonardo da Vinci that had been lost. The earliest documented owner of the painting was King Charles I of England. After Charles's execution in 1649, however, records became muddled and the masterpiece's whereabouts unknown. That is, until it resurfaced just over a decade ago here in the United States.
After being examined by numerous art historians and specialists here in America, the work was sent to London, to be compared against Leonardo's Virgin of the Rocks in the National Gallery. The world's leading experts and scholars were invited for further study the work, including Martin Kemp of Oxford University. Kemp said of the work "It had that kind of presence that Leonardos have ... that uncanny strangeness that the later Leonardo paintings manifest."
In January, Freeman's will offer its own Salvator Mundi, and though its origins may be somewhat slightly more humble than da Vinci, it is still quite impressive. The 16th century work is of the Venetian School, and comes to auction from a prestigious Pennsylvania institution. Previously unseen, the January 23 auction of European Art & Old Masters will mark the work's auction debut, and as far as can be told - its first public offering of any kind. In this, the work presents a slight air of mystery, a bit reminiscent of its more famous Leondardo counterpart.
The Salvator Mundi representation has been a popular representation of Christ, with examples from Giovanni Bellini, Francesco Bissolo, Vincenzo Catena, Benedetto Diana, Giovanni Mansueti, Mario Marziale, Jacopo da Valenza and Alvise Vivarini. The theme was also treated by important Northern European 16thcentury artists, including Joos van Cleve, Michael Coxie I and Albrecht Durer. These names, along with Leonardo's, leave the work being presented at auction this January in prestigious company. A Salvator Mundi painting related to the present work was painted by the School of Giovanni Bellini, circa 1500-1520, and is in the Accademia Carrara in Bergamo.
Modestly estimated at $6,000-8,000, the January 23 auction presents an opportunity to own a piece of work whose imagery is synonymous with some of the most significant names in Renaissance art.
Venetian School (16th Century) Salvator Mundi, Estimate $6,000-8,000. To be offered 01/23/16
Leonardo da Vinci (Italian 1452-1519) Salvator Mundi (image courtesy of Wikipedia)