This week, the Louvre Museum in Paris confirmed its request to borrow Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Salvator Mundi’. The Museum hopes to include the renowned painting in its major exhibition marking the 500th anniversary of the artist’s death, which opens in October this year.
A spokeswoman for the Louvre stated: “I can confirm that the Musée du Louvre has asked for the loan of the Salvator Mundi for the Leonardo da Vinci exhibition. We are waiting for the owner’s answer”.
Leonardo’s wood panel painting was due to go on display at the Louvre Abu Dhabi museum in September 2018. Its unveiling was postponed for reasons unknown, although uncertainty regarding its attribution to Leonardo has been suggested as the cause.
In November 2017, ‘Salvator Mundi’ sold at Christie’s New York for a record-breaking $450 million (£345 million), making it the most expensive painting ever sold at auction. The identity of the buyer remains unclear, but various reports believe the successful bidder to be Saudi prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud.
While numerous art historians believe the heavily restored painting was by one of his assistants, a panel of a dozen scholars approved the attribution to Leonardo before the Christie’s auction.
Martin Kemp, Emeritus Professor of History of Art at Trinity College, Oxford, believes the hair of ‘Salvator Mundi’ is the key to identifying the artist’s hand.
“But you look at Leonardo’s curls, or how he handles twisted drapery, he understands the physics of it. He understands the anatomy of the phenomenon. In the Salvator Mundi, there are some wonderful curls”, remarked Kemp.
The United Arab Emirates have not yet released a date when the painting will finally be exhibited. In the meantime, Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism have said “more details will be announced soon”.
Despite it arguably being one of the most famous artworks in the world, the current whereabouts of the painting is still shrouded in mystery.