Leonardo da Vinci

Salvator Mundi Leonardo attribution: it’s all in the hand of the master

Proof of changes to the composition increases scholarly support

The hand of Christ was among the clues that led scholars to accept the newly rediscovered Salvator Mundi (Saviour of the World) as a Leonardo (see pp38-39). After it was bought by a New York dealer, crude overpainting and discoloured varnish (some visible in a 1908 black-and-white photograph) were removed. Minor changes in the composition were noted, suggesting that it was not a copy (as had been assumed), but the lost original. The thumb of Christ’s blessing hand was initially more vertical than in the finished picture. Specialists now accept it as an authentic Leonardo of 1498-1506. It will be unveiled at London’s National Gallery in its Leonardo show (9 November-5 February 2012).

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Leonardo: it’s all in the hand of the master'