Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Why are experts perplexed by Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Salvator Mundi’? (Hint: it’s that weird orb)

By Eileen Kinsella, October 23, 2017
Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi. Courtesy of Christie's Images Ltd. 2017.
Is it a rift between art and science or just artistic genius at work? In what looks to be the start of Leonardo da Vinci delirium, art experts and scholars (including us) are geeking out over a mystery highlighted by Walter Isaacson in his spectacular new biography, Leonardo da Vinci (Simon & Schuster). The riddle centers on the orb in the left hand of Jesus in the Leonardo da Vinci painting Salvator Mundi (Savior of the World), which Christie’s is planning to offer for $100 million at a New York auction next month. “Leonardo failed to paint the distortion that would occur when looking through a solid clear orb at objects that are not touching the orb,” Isaacson writes in the book. Solid glass or crystal—be it an orb or a lens shape—yields magnified inverted or reverse images. However, as Isaacson points out, Leonardo painted the orb “as if it were a hollow glass bubble that does not refract or distort the light passing through it.” [More]