That $450 Million Leonardo? It’s No Mona Lisa.

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Crowds at Christie’s catching a glimpse of “Salvator Mundi.”

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Benjamin Norman for The New York Times

You can’t put a worth on magnificence; you may put a worth on a reputation. When the National Gallery in London exhibited a portray of Christ in 2011 as a heretofore misplaced work by Leonardo da Vinci, the shock in artwork historic circles was exceeded solely by the salivating of sellers and auctioneers.

The portray, “Salvator Mundi,” is the one Leonardo in personal arms, and was dropped at market by the household belief of Dmitry E. Rybolovlev, the Russian billionaire entangled in an epic multinational lawsuit along with his former vendor, Yves Bouvier. On Wednesday night time, at Christie’s postwar and up to date sale (wherein it was incongruously included to succeed in bidders past Renaissance connoisseurs), the Leonardo offered for a surprising $450.three million, the very best worth ever paid for a murals at public sale. Worth it? Well, what are you shopping for: the portray or the model?

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A element of the Leonardo da Vinci portray.

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Benjamin Norman for The New York Times

The portray, when bought at an property sale in 2005 for lower than $10,000, was initially thought-about a replica of a misplaced Leonardo, accomplished round 1500 and as soon as within the badortment of Charles I of England. Over time, its wooden floor grew to become cracked and chafed, and it had been crudely overpainted, as a picture within the sale catalog reveals. Cleaned by the conservator Dianne Dwyer Modestini, the portray now seems in some limbo state between its authentic type and an exacting, although partially imagined, rehabilitation.

Authentication is a critical however subjective enterprise. I’m not the person to affirm or reject its attribution; it’s accepted as a Leonardo by many critical students, although not all. I can say, nevertheless, what I felt I used to be after I took my place among the many crowds who’d queued an hour or extra to behold and endlessly “Salvator Mundi”: a proficient however not particularly distinguished non secular image from turn-of-the-16th-century Lombardy, put by way of a wringer of restorations.

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Its most partaking pbadages are within the embroidered blue robe that Christ wears. The gown’s folds are supple and sinuous, and the trim, zigzagged with an elaborate and unbroken knotting sample, has a mathematical intricacy that offers this Christian portray a shocking Islamic contact. (Technical evaluation confirms that Leonardo used pure lapis lazuli for the gown, fairly than cheaper azurite.)

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A element of “Salvator Mundi” displaying Christ holding an orb in his left hand. “It’s not as optically showy as Dan Brown devotees might like,” our critic writes, “but its watery coloring, glossy edges and dimpled bottom do the trick well enough.”

Credit
Benjamin Norman for The New York Times

The orb that Christ holds in his left hand, symbolizing his dominion over all creation, is just not as showy as Dan Brown devotees would possibly like, however its watery coloring, shiny edges and dimpled backside do the trick nicely sufficient. His curly hair, particularly the decrease tresses framing Christ’s neckline, has a sure corkscrew adeptness, although it’s not as proficient because the equally kinky locks of Leonardo’s not too long ago restored “St. John the Baptist,” on the Louvre in Paris, or Botticelli’s barely earlier “Portrait of a Lady,” on the Städel in Frankfurt.

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