‘Salvator Mundi will bring art lovers to Louvre’

asasasasasasasFILE- In this Oct. 24, 2017, file photo, people gather around Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” on display at Christie’s auction rooms in London. The rare painting of Christ, which that sold for a record $450 million, is heading to a museum in Abu Dhabi. The newly-opened Louvre Abu Dhabi made the announcement in a tweet on Wednesday, Dec. 6. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)

Abu Dhabi: Art enthusiasts and residents alike are looking forward to seeing Salvator Mundi, a Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece that has been acquired for the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

A statement sent by the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi confirmed that the painting by the Italian Renaissance master has been acquired by the department for the Abu Dhabi museum, and that it will go on display alongside the other Da Vinci piece at the museum, titled La Belle Ferronniere.

Salvator Mundi, hailed as one of the greatest artistic rediscoveries of the last century, is one of fewer than 20 known surviving paintings by Da Vinci. It depicts Christ as Saviour of the World, dressed in Renaissance era clothing.

“This is truly an extraordinary painting that only recently resurfaced. It will surely bring many thousands of art lovers from around the world to the Louvre Abu Dhabi for a chance to experience this masterpiece in person,” said Dr David Darts, associate dean of arts and programme head of art and art history at the New York University Abu Dhabi, told Gulf News.

“This acquisition serves to underline Abu Dhabi’s extraordinary commitment to global art and culture and helps to further establish the Louvre Abu Dhabi as a world class museum,” he added.

Sumayyah Al Suwaidi, an Emirati digital artist, said that being able to experience such art is an inspiration for artists like herself, who want to one day be remembered like Da Vinci. “Its acquisition is a great accomplishment for the UAE, and its presence will emphasise the importance of art history as our country works towards becoming the hub for culture and art in the region,” she said.

Those who have visited the Louvre Abu Dhabi say that the painting also fits in perfectly with the museum’s universal narrative.

“There is a gallery at the museum which features a Virgin Mary next to a Quran, and alongside Buddha and Shiva figurines. Seeing the Salvator Mundi in such a museum, which creates a conversation between different eras and cultures, will therefore be a treat. It is also likely that seeing such a famous painting will only make people more curious about the arts, and perhaps even get them into the local galleries,” said Deborah Williams, programme head for literature and creative writing at the New York University Abu Dhabi, told Gulf News.

Other art lovers said they are likely to visit the Louvre Abu Dhabi once more just to take in Salvator Mundi.

“It may be a religion painting, but there is no real sense dividing art, which unites us all, along religious lines. In addition, this famous painting is part of the history of art, and we all need to learn from history to be stronger now and in the future,” said Aurelia Cuku, owner of Abu Dhabi-based artist agency, Global Agency.

Da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi

The painting by the Italian master shows Christ in Renaissance clothing, giving a benediction with his raised right hand and crossed fingers, a transparent rock crystal orb held in his left. Painted around 1500, the piece that once belonged to King Charles I of England has a controversial history because some experts doubt that it is Da Vinci’s work.

Nevertheless, it is one of fewer than 20 paintings generally accepted as being from the Renaissance master’s own hand, according to British auction house Christie’s.

It was sold for a mere £45 (Dh221.33) in 1958, when the painting was thought to have been a copy, and was lost until it resurfaced at a regional auction in 2005. It went on public display in 2011 in a dramatic unveiling at The National Gallery in London, where the work was declared to be the first newly discovered Da Vinci painting in a century.

Last held privately by a Russian billionaire, the painting was auctioned by Christie’s for a record $450 million (Dh1,653.95 million), the highest paid for a painting at an auction till date. Despite initial speculation about its new owner, the Department of Culture and Tourism-Abu Dhabi’s release confirms that it is now coming to the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

The museum already features another Da Vinci painting, La Belle Ferronniere, which depicts a woman. It hangs in The World in Perspective gallery, and is currently on loan to the Louvre Abu Dhabi from the Louvre Museum in Paris.

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