Salvatore Mundi. Da Vinci Pranking the Catholic Church
Leonardo Da Vinci as Prankster
Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519) was well known as a bon vivant during his heyday. He would often chat up his friends in friendly philosophical discussions in the Forentine plazas over wine or tea or at a friend's home. After some major commissions, he was the one everyone came to for these discussions. He had the persona that his reputation has provided for all the years since that time.
His main rival at the time was the great Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475) who may have been the first marketing whiz to come up with only being known by a first name. So even though Michelangelo was 20 years his junior, many of the discussions Da Vinci had involved debates with him as very early on Michelangelo had developed a reputation as an expert painter and sculptor. We know all about these conversations from the writings and descriptions handed down over time.
We also know that unlike Michelangelo, who was a devout Catholic, the older Da Vinci did not care for faith or religion. He considered it mostly a scam. He did his commissions for the money and the opportunity to try new techniques, but the content did not interest him much.
The recently discovered self-portraits by Leonardo, both the painting and the sketch in his codex on birds show a clearly aquiline nose and relatively long face. Notice that both are drawn at 1/4 from full portrait view.
The painting called "Salvatore Mundi" or "Savior of the World" has been evaluated by multiple experts and PhDs all over the world as Da Vinci's representation of the Christ figure. They have commented on how it was painted, the tints and paints used, the style of painting he used to create it, and even how close it resembles his famed Mona Lisa. Of course, it was just sold for a record $450M at auction as the last painting of his from a private collection. Well, what is amusing to me is that all these experts saw all the trees, but never bothered to notice the forest. The same experts delight in having found, by accident, the new portraits of the young Da Vinci and put a ton of effort into proving that the image in the codex was him as well. Using advanced imaging techniques to age a person, they were able to show that the image in the codex does become the more familiar sketch of himself as a far older man (the one with the full beard). They were all very excited to have finally found an image of him as a young man. The funny part is that they had one all along standing right in front of them: Salvatore Mundi.
Just look at the image. Compare Salvatore Mundi to the self portrait as a young man that all the experts agree upon. It's the same face. Turn that face 1/4 turn and you have the same nose. Look at all the remaining paintings of Christ by Renaissance painters. They all show Christ in a linen cloth or bare-skinned. Da Vinci puts him in garb of his own time? Are you kidding me? He places a clear globe in his left hand. The experts go hog-wild to say it represents Christ's power over the world. Hogwash! Da Vinci is playing with the viewer here. He is giving that illusion but also showing how light works with a clear globe. And painting his hand as if giving an oration is just hilarious. He gives the Christ figure flaming red hair in long waves? LOL
Salvatore Mundi, the savior of the world, is Leonardo Da Vinci pretending to be the Christ figure like he is at a costume party and enjoying the festivities. A very funny and playful genius if there ever was one.