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Heather | 8271 comments

British Library set to reveal real-life 'da Vinci code'
James Rogers
Fox News
December 2018

The British Library in London is set to showcase a number of Leonardo da Vinci's most important notebooks, all written in his famous “mirror-writing.”

The "Leonardo da Vinci: A Mind in Motion" exhibit will include notes and drawings from three of his most revered scientific and artistic notebooks, the Codex Arundel, the Codex Forster and the Codex Leicester.

“These remarkable pages, written in Leonardo’s distinctive mirror writing, illustrate how his detailed studies of natural phenomena – and in particular of water – influenced his work both as an artist and an inventor,” explained the British Library, in a statement.

In addition to using his own shorthand, da Vinci also wrote his personal notes starting on the right-hand side of the page. It is not clear whether this so-called mirror writing was a way to keep his notes private or simply a means to prevent smudging, as da Vinci was left-handed.

Another famous southpaw, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, bought the Codex Leicester, for $31 million in 1994. The Codex, a 72-page collection of notes, is widely considered to be one of Leonardo’s most important scientific notebooks, according to the British Library.

The British Library exhibition, scheduled for next year (2019), will mark the 500th anniversary of the Renaissance master’s death.

The library said Tuesday it will mark the first time selections from the three will be displayed together in Britain. The Codex Leicester is also being shown in the U.K. for the first time since its purchase by Gates.

Curator Andrea Clarke said da Vinci's notebooks "show him to be an extraordinarily dynamic thinker who was able to make connections between multiple phenomena and disciplines."

The da Vinci exhibit will run from June until September.

message 2: by Heather, Moderator (new)

Heather | 8271 comments Leonardo da Vinci's earliest work discovered?
James Rogers
Fox News

Experts in Italy believe that the work portraying the Archangel Gabriel is a self-portrait of Leonardo da Vinci and the famous artist's earliest surviving work.

Experts in Italy say they have found the earliest surviving work by Leonardo da Vinci.

The small glazed terracotta tile, described as a self-portrait of the artist as the Archangel Gabriel, was unveiled at a press conference in Rome on Thursday.

Professor Ernesto Solari worked with handwriting expert Ivana Bonfantino to analyze the majolica tile. Citing the experts, the Telegraph reports that infrared analysis revealed a tiny signature on the jawline of the angel’s face. When the detail was magnified, it read “Da Vinci Lionardo” and the date “1471.”

Other details, including the number “52” were discovered on the tile, which experts believe make up the coded message: “I, Leonardo da Vinci, born in 1452, represented myself as Archangel Gabriel in 1471.”

The tile was studied in three different laboratories, according to Solari, who believes that the Italian Renaissance master used a pottery kiln owned by his grandparents to produce the tile.

The tile’s authenticity, however, has been questioned by noted Leonardo expert Martin Kemp, professor emeritus of the history of art at the University of Oxford. "The tile is not credible as a work by Leonardo or of any competant pupil of [Leonardo's teacher Andrea del] Verrocchio," he told Fox News, via email. "The treatment of the hair and details of the costume are comically schematic."

With so few of Leonardo’s artworks in existence, potential new finds come under intense scrutiny.

There has even been some debate about the authenticity of Da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” painting, which sold for a record $450.3 million last year.

The painting grabbed headlines around the world when it was sold at Christie’s auction house in New York. "Salvator Mundi," Latin for "Savior of the World,” is one of fewer than 20 paintings by Da Vinci known to exist and the only one in private hands.

A copy of the Archangel Gabriel tile is on display at Rome's Leonardo da Vinci Experience Museum.

message 3: by Heather, Moderator (new)

Heather | 8271 comments Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” painting, which recently sold for a record $450.3 million, will be exhibited at the new Louvre Abu Dhabi.

The museum, which opened its doors in a blaze of publicity last month, announced the exhibit in a short Instagram post and a series of tweets in English, French and Arabic Wednesday. The Louvre Abu Dhabi also announced the news in an Arabic post on its Facebook page.

The painting by the Italian Renaissance master grabbed headlines when it was sold for a record-breaking price at Christie’s auction house in New York.

The highest known sale price for any artwork had been $300 million for Willem de Kooning's painting "Interchange."

"Salvator Mundi," Latin for "Savior of the World,” is one of fewer than 20 paintings by Da Vinci known to exist and the only one in private hands. The painting’s buyer was not identified, prompting speculation about the mystery purchaser.

The New York Times claimed Wednesday that the painting was purchased by a Saudi prince.

Click on link to show video of the auction...

message 4: by Heather, Moderator (new)

Heather | 8271 comments Artistic license? Experts doubt Leonardo da Vinci painted $450m Salvator Mundi

It broke the record for the most expensive painting ever sold, but the image of Jesus has come under fire with many doubting its authenticity

fter breaking the world record as the most expensive painting ever sold at an auction for $450.3m, Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi is at the heart of a hot debate among critics and historians who question whether this painting on wood of Jesus was ever touched by Leonardo’s brush.

Some say it could have been made by Giovanni Boltraffio, an Italian artist who worked as a pupil in Leonardo’s studio.
How Salvator Mundi became the most expensive painting ever sold at auction
Read more

As the New York magazine art critic Jerry Saltz wrote: “I’m no art historian or any kind of expert in old masters. But I’ve looked at art for almost 50 years and one look at this painting tells me it’s no Leonardo.”

He continues: “The painting is absolutely dead. Its surface is inert, varnished, lurid, scrubbed over, and repainted so many times that it looks simultaneously new and old.”

Many art experts who have laid eyes on the Salvator Mundi have spent the week discussing its authenticity. “I don’t believe the attribution to Leonardo is correct,” said Todd Levin, a curator and art adviser at Levin Art Group in New York.

“Nobody can definitively prove that with any veracity, unless a new, probative piece of evidence could significantly change this. The attribution to Giovanni Boltraffio strikes me as correct.”

Michael Daley, an artist and director of ArtWatch UK, which campaigns for the protection of art against damaging treatments, also questions the painting’s origins. “The Salvator Mundi is a heavily made-over wreck of a work with no history before 1900,” said Daley.

The painting had unknown whereabouts from 1763 to 1900 – a large time gap to disappear – before being acquired by art collector Charles Robinson of Richmond, near London, who thought it was painted by Leonardo follower Bernardino Luini.

Salvator Mundi in its original state as discovered before restoration, and after. Composite: Christie's/Art Collection/Alamy

It sold at Sotheby’s for $60 in 1958, was restored and then believed to be an authentic Leonardo in 2011. It was exhibited at the National Gallery in London before Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev bought the painting in 2013 for $127.5m.

Carmen Bambach, an Italian Renaissance art specialist who is a curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, wrote there was the possibility Boltraffio and Leonardo both painted it.

“Having studied and followed the picture during its conservation treatment, and seeing it in context in the exhibition, much of the original surface may be by Boltraffio, but with passages done by Leonardo himself, namely Christ’s proper right blessing hand, portions of the sleeve, his left hand and the crystal orb he holds,” she wrote in Apollo magazine in 2012.

German art historian Frank Zöllner recognizes that the Salvator Mundi’s attribution is controversial “for it had to undergo very extensive restoration, which makes its original quality extremely difficult to assess”, he wrote in the preface to the 2017 edition of his book, Leonardo – the Complete Paintings and Drawings.

It’s recorded as being painted in 1500, between Leonardo’s Last Supper from 1495-98 and before he painted the Mona Lisa in 1503. But it may have been painted later.
Great collectors used to have great taste. Now they simply show off their wealth
Tiffany Jenkins
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“We might sooner see the Salvator Mundi as a high-quality product of Leonardo’s workshop, painted only after 1507 and possibly much later, on whose execution Leonardo was personally involved,” he writes, explaining that it “exhibits a strongly developed sfumato technique that corresponds more closely to the manner of a Leonardo pupil active in the 1520s than to the style of the master himself”.

The painting’s attribution can be questioned by its restoration process over 500 years, which has been so extensive that Old Masters gallerist Robert Simon said it “makes it look like a copy”. In 2011, he noted the painting “had been cleaned many times in the past by people who didn’t know better”.

The restoration is no side note, as it significantly affects the viewer experience. “This painting, regardless of who it’s by, is in a poor condition at best,” said Levin. “It has been considerably over-painted several times and it has been aggressively over-cleaned. If the image of a painting is defaced to this extreme extent, it doesn’t matter who it’s by, the painting is effectively gone.

“When one is standing in front of the painting, regardless of the artist, it’s not a gripping masterpiece, and Leonardo is known for gripping masterpieces,” said Levin. “It’s hard for me to believe the attribution to Leonardo.”

Could the painting be a product of “picture surgeons” and their botchings? “Restorers started calling themselves ‘picture surgeons’ at one point and were mocked for being more ‘cosmetic surgeons’,” explains Daley.

“What they do is what they’ve always done; strip down previous restorers’ work and add their own – the traditional complaint against them is that they are forever undoing and redoing pictures, which is always destructive in the first part and falsifying in the second.”
All the Leonardo Da Vincis in the world: rated
Read more

The painting’s conservator Dianne Modestini started working on Salvator Mundi in 2005. When reached through email, Modestini stands by the artwork as a Leonardo, and disagrees when asked about the claims that the artwork has been heavily over-painted.

“The painting is definitely by Leonardo and has been scrupulously studied, conserved, and restored,” wrote Modestini. “It is damaged but not ‘heavily over-painted’, which would be unethical.”

Martin Kemp, a Leonardo scholar who co-authored Mona Lisa: The People and the Painting, comments on the restoration of Salvator Mundi.

“There was very serious damage and over-painting, which totally obscured the quality of the picture,” said Kemp. “The worst effects have been overcome by a very judicious campaign of cleaning, securing the panel and filling-in lost paint.”

However, Kemp attests the painting is a Leonardo. “There are no well-founded doubts about Leonardo’s responsibility for the picture,” he said. “This is not just a matter of judgment by eye, but based on technical examination, and ineffable signs of Leonardo’s ‘science of art’, most notably optics, which none of his followers understood.”

What about the art pundits and historians who are doubtful of the painting’s attribution? Kemp is doubtful.

“Who amongst accredited Leonardo scholars?” he asks. “‘Critics’ and ‘some reports’ won’t do.”

“Carmen Bambach alone of Leonardo specialists suggested that Boltraffio was heavily involved – without any clear foundation – and this has been transmuted with second-hand quotes into Boltraffio being the author,” said Kemp. “Sloppy and self-serving journalism, I’m afraid.”

message 5: by Heather, Moderator (new)

Heather | 8271 comments Behind Mona Lisa's Smile: Another Woman?
Jenn Gidman

Will the real Mona Lisa please stand up—or at least send us a signal from within the paint layers? The art world is buzzing over a French scientist's claims that he discovered a portrait of another woman lurking beneath the top layer of the world's most famous painting—meaning the Mona Lisa as we know her might not be the real her, the BBC reports. Pascal Cotte, who co-founded a Paris-based company that digitizes fine art, has been studying Da Vinci's signature piece for 10 years using a technology called the Layer Amplification Method, or LAM, which involves shining "intense" light onto a painting, then measuring the bounced-back reflections to gauge what's underneath, per Newsweek. And what Cotte says is underneath the surface of the Mona Lisa is an image of a woman looking off to the side (not straight ahead) with different physical characteristics than the model that currently smiles down on crowds at the Louvre.

For instance, the hidden portrait shows a woman who boasts a bigger head, nose, and hands, as well as smaller lips, the Telegraph notes. Which means, as an art historian tells the paper, that "it was a portrait [that woman's] husband never received. Instead, Leonardo went on to paint the world's most famous picture over the top." But not everyone's convinced the find is that amazing. An Oxford University art history professor tells the BBC that the newly uncovered model was likely not the start of a completely different painting, but simply an "evolution" of the final Mona Lisa in which Da Vinci kept painting over the previous version until he got the result he wanted. "I am absolutely convinced that the Mona Lisa is Lisa," he says. The Louvre, for its part, is declining comment because it "was not part of the scientific team" that analyzed the painting, per the BBC.

message 7: by Heather, Moderator (new)

Heather | 8271 comments Emrys wrote: "4th May 2019: "Leonardo's 'claw hand' stopped him painting""

That's really interesting. I never knew he even had a problem with his hand. But that does make sense why some of his works were left incomplete...

Thank you for posting that, Emrys!

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