Has Playful Leonardo Left Us a Clue in the Salvator Mundi?

imageAustralian artist Dorothy Gauvin asks Has Playful Leonardo Left Us a Clue?

It’s happening for me again, an ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ moment. This time it’s an idea that fits within my own field of Painting. Yet this time, I’m completely at a loss as to how to test it. You see, it’s about a mysterious work recently identified as by that towering genius and trickster, Leonardo Da Vinci.

Since it’s no longer physically possible for me to travel, so as to go to see the original, I can only muse on printed reproductions of the painting titled ‘Salvator Mundi.’

imageSo, in hopes of getting a reply from someone who can enlighten me, I’m throwing my possibly ridiculous thought out into the ether of Cyberspace. Here goes:

In every report I’ve read, experts refer to an object held in the left hand of the Jesus figure as a ‘globe’ or as a ‘sphere’ of crystal, representing the world. To my eye, this is clearly a round lens, such as that which is a component of the camera obscura, which Leonardo described in his notebooks and is now thought to have utilized in making the Shroud of Turin.

Can this crystal object be the playful clue he left – out in plain sight – to another of his cryptic jokes on us all?

Shhh! Don’t tell Picknett and Prince. They’ll need to revise their book once again.

36 thoughts on “Has Playful Leonardo Left Us a Clue in the Salvator Mundi?”

  1. Because Leonardo was born 100 years after the documented exposition of the Shroud and more than two centuries after the Hungarian Pray illustration, before anybody goes overboard on this I would like some clue as to when Leonardo invented time travel and the mechanism involved considering medieval technology.

  2. John, some people’s faith lead them to believe that Leonardo was the only person who could work miracles. ;-)

  3. Los ojos del Salvator Mundi tienen un ligero ESTRABISMO convergente que producen el efecto de estar siempre MIRÁNDONOS desde cualquier posición que lo veamos.

    La bola NO es de cristal, no produce ninguna deformación en los pliegues del ropaje ni de la palma de la manos vistos a través de ella.

    1. Google translation of co’s comment:

      Salvator Mundi’s eyes have a slight convergent strabismus which have the effect of always looking at us from any position to see.

      The crystal ball is not, does not produce any deformation in the folds of clothing or the palm of the hand seen through it.

  4. Geez not another Leonardo thread, somebody, anybody, everybody, please let him rest in peace ;-)

    R

  5. Great comments here, I love what people are saying!!

    There’s no way a “lens” would stand up in the hand like that: the hand is cupped to hold a ball, not a flat disk. The way the hand is cupped helps to give “dimension” to the ball or globe.

    If he was holding a lens it would be necessary to grip it with finger and thumb.

    I guess people see what they want to see….

  6. Maybe it is a clue that Leonardo invented the ultraviolet laser and used it to make the Shroud? Notice that the colour of the robe (= shroud – get it?) behind the lens is violet (sort of). That should be enough for a new Picknett & Prince book!

  7. Thank you for your kindly and tactful answer. Oh dear! Mea culpa – for not following my own rule of not accepting one opinion before checking at least three other sources. A lesson relearnt.

    At your impressive and informative website, I could’ve lingered for hours but that I have my own work to (joyfully) do. There, I recognised the images of Picknett and Prince as the authors of the televised documentary my comment relied on.

    Thanks especially, Dan, for pointing out what should’ve been blindingly obvious – the date of Leo’s birth with reference to the date of the Shroud’s display.

    Still, the item that most intrigues me remains unanswered. The crystal object in the hand of the ‘Salvatore Mundi’ is labelled a ‘globe’ and I wonder: to your knowledge, has anyone examined the painting or taken a really high resolution photo of it, so as to identify its nature?
    Looking forward to future posts, thanks again,

    Dorothy Gauvin

    1. Just my cent on the ‘globe or lens’ topic. Or rather Sir Kenneth Clark’s cent, as he said
      “… the average man had become progressively less able to recognize the subjects or understand the meaning of the works of art of the past. Fewer people had read the classics of Greek and Roman literature, and relatively few people read the Bible with the same diligence that their parents had done. It comes as a shock to an elderly man to find how many biblical references have become completely incomprehensible to the present generation.”(KC, introduction to”Dictionary of subjects and symbols in Art” by James Hall)

      The object is labelled a globe because a globe is the correct attribute for an image meant to depict Christ as the Salvator Mundi (Saviour of the World). The globe or sphere does stand for the Universe.
      Not knowing this has lead some fancyful people to draw very odd conclusions
      http://sprezzatura.it/Arte/Arte_UFO_1_eng.htm
      (scroll down to “ESALTATION OF THE EUCARISTY” (Detail of the Trinity) by Ventura Salimbeni)

      Viviana Castelli

  8. Dorothy, puede usted encontrar una imagen de gran resolución del Salvator Mundi atribuido a Leonardo en:

    http://www.thehistoryblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Salvator-M

    Una magnífica iconografía comentada (en francés) de OTROS Salvator Mundi con “bola” de cristal (¿) en:
    http://www.arretsurimages.net/vite.php?id=11679

    Un magnífico foro con muy interesantes comentarios (en español) y muy buena iconografía en :

    http://terraeantiqvae.com/forum/topics/anuncian-el-descubrimiento-de?groupUrl=historiadelarte&groupId=2043782%3AGroup%3A16225&id=2043782%3ATopic%3A128261&page=1#comments

  9. In Hebrew my name (Hamon) means “Universe”, “Vast World”. May be Leonardo in painting the crystal sphere was cryptically thinking of me ;-)

  10. Gabriel, in Hebrew Hamon is written with an inital “Hei” not a “Chei” (like in the Spanish “Jamon”). I myself can do very cheap humour to your expense: Jamon is Spanish. Gabriel is Spanish. Gabriel is Jamon.

  11. By the way Gabriel, do you know in Jewish Mexican Spanish, there is a word play on the name Gabriel: Cabron’iel.

  12. Thanks to the contributors whose comments have gone to helping answer my query about the crystal object in the painting. Especially, for sending me to my bookshelves to check Sir Kenneth Clark on a globe as the appropriate attribute and for observations on the posture of the figure’s hand. Amusing too, the ‘Sputnik’ by Salimbeni. It seems artists always have been playful and, like our audiences, a little bit nuts. To the relief of serious Shroud students, I’ll now confine myself to reading the Leo entries on this wonderful site. Thanks for the fun and the info.

  13. Dorothy,
    More seriously, besides the symbolical reference to the Universe or the Vast World, the crystal object in the Leonardo Da Vinci’s painting is a visual wordplay on Christ/cristal in French, Cristo/cristale in Italian or Christus/crystallus in Latin.
    The two initial letters for Salvator Mundi, SM, might well also allude to the Sindone Munda (see Matth. XXVII, 59 : « Et accepte corpore, Joseph involvit illud in sindone munda. »). Besides, the Constantinopolis Holy Mandilyon, as a “monstrance”, had a large central pearled oculus made of a rock crystal for beholders to see the Holy Face through it (“and the rock was Christ”). It might well mean “seen/painted after the Face of the Sindone Munda”. I hope the information is useful and… crystal clear.

    In two previous blog postings, I also wrote:

    November 23, 2011 at 9:01 am | #1

    It is most likely Leonardo Da Vinci had access to either the Veronica (The actual Veil of Manoppello) or the Turin Shroud or both as a member of the secret society of Artists called The Knights of The Mist.

    November 23, 2011 at 9:06 am | #2

    It is also most lilely that Leornado Da Vinci’s sfumato technique owes much to the Man of the Shroud…

      1. To media-e-midia: To have access is one thing, to be allowed to spend hours to privately copy the Veronica quite another.

      2. To have the Veronica taken out of its reliquery and have it almost at hand reach to faithfully copy was only for the happy fews.

      3. You just cannot seriouly rely on this painting to make such an assertion (your post #25)

  14. ..as much as his micropointillist techique to the Veronica (The actual Veil of Manopello).

  15. The crystal globe/”imperial orb” (left hand) is to be read in conjunction with the “hand of justice” (right hand) as royal attributes of the Savator Mundi;

  16. It is my considered opinion based on over 75,000 hours of research into Leonardo da Vinci masterpieces that the Blue painting that was on display in The National Gallery London, England called Salvator Mundi Savoir of the World; is not a completed work of Leonardo da Vinci and has been authenticated incorrectly by experts.

    It is also in my opinion that of the Marquis de Ganay Collection “Salvator Mundi that was auctioned off by Sotheby’s May 1999 in its “Important Old Masters Paintings” auction is the original Leonardo da Vinci Masterpiece and sold in the $300,000 dollar range.

    The justification for this conclusion is that, Leonardo da Vinci had a reputation for creating art with extreme precision which was legendary, and a Leonardo da Vinci hallmark. The precision is clearly evident in the Red and Blue painting above, but is strikingly absent in the Blue painting. The only exception is that the preparatory drawing of the hand in the Blue painting was created by Leonardo, but the overall painting was completed by an artist having far lesser skills.

    Leonardo da Vinci Research Group
    Founder; Michael Walter Domoretsky

  17. It is my considered opinion based on over 75,000 hours of research into Leonardo da Vinci masterpieces that the Blue painting that was on display in The National Gallery London, England called Salvator Mundi Savoir of the World; is not a completed work of Leonardo da Vinci and has been authenticated incorrectly by experts.

    It is also in my opinion that of the Marquis de Ganay Collection “Salvator Mundi that was auctioned off by Sotheby’s May 1999 in its “Important Old Masters Paintings” auction is the original Leonardo da Vinci Masterpiece and sold in the $300,000 dollar range.

    The justification for this conclusion is that, Leonardo da Vinci had a reputation for creating art with extreme precision which was legendary, and a Leonardo da Vinci hallmark. The precision is clearly evident in the Red and Blue painting above, but is strikingly absent in the Blue painting. The only exception is that the preparatory drawing of the hand in the Blue painting was created by Leonardo, but the overall painting was completed by an artist having far lesser skills.

    Leonardo da Vinci Research Group
    Founder; Michael Walter Domoretsky
    http://michaelmwd.blogspot.com/2011/12/leonardo-da-vincis-salvator-mundi.html

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