salvator mundi

Leonardo da Vinci, “Salvator Mundi” (c.1500), 

Oil on panel, 25 7/8 x 18 in.(65.7 x 45.7 cm) 

It was first recorded in the Royal collection of King Charles I (1600–1649) and it was believed to be hung in the private chambers of Henrietta Maria, the wife of King Charles I, in her palace in Greenwich, It was later in the collection of Charles II. 

The painting was then recorded in a 1763 sale by Charles Herbert Sheffield, the illegitimate son of the Duke of Buckingham, who put it up for auction.

Then it disappeared from the written records until 1900 when it was acquired by Sir Charles Robinson as a work by Leonardo’s follower, Bernardino Luini, for the Cook Collection, Doughty House, Richmond. By this time, the painting’s authorship, origins, and royal history had been forgotten, and Christ’s face and hair were overpainted by another artist. 

When the Cook Collection was disperse, it was ultimately consigned to a sale at Sotheby’s in 1958 where it sold for £45 (~159 in USD, or ~1,339 USD today).

It disappeared once again and emerged in 2005 when it was purchased from a US estate at a small regional auction house. Its rediscovery was followed by six years of research to prove its origins. 

In 2011, the painting was part of the Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan exhibition at The National Gallery, London.

Image courtesy Christie’s