The Metropolitan Museum of Art has joined other major art museums in casting doubt on the authenticity of Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi, which is thought to be the last known painted portrait of Jesus Christ.
The painting was said to have been sold for a record $450 million (about £320 million) in New York in October, although the institution which handled the transaction said last week that it no longer believed it had the painting.
A month ago, The New York Times reported that the Christie’s auction house had raised doubts about the authenticity of the painting after misidentifying a “cryptic inscription” engraved in the painting. The inscription, which was written in pale paint, suggests that Jesus Christ was acknowledged as a Jewish, not Christian, king. The painting, which was apparently buried in a tomb for almost 500 years, is said to date back to around 1500.
But now the Met is joining institutions such as the Louvre and the British Museum in casting doubts on the origins of the painting.
Monica Richartz, the curator of European painting at the Met, called the attribution of the painting to Leonardo da Vinci “fundamentally flawed.” “There is so much doubt that any institution that is participating in an auction does not have the painting itself. So there’s an enormous obligation to do due diligence.”
Richartz suggested the painting had been staged, similar to the Metropolitan Museum’s “Mary Tudor in Tricorne” which was withdrawn from auction in 2017 over evidence that it was not the work of a Renaissance artist. “We were convinced of that and certainly have confidence in the museum’s mission statement,” Richartz said. “But the fact that so many other institutions have acknowledged it now lends to the debate.”
The Metropolitan Museum of Art donated the painting to the Museum of Modern Art, which is giving it to the Met, in 1928.
Read the full story at The Guardian.
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