ABU DHABI, UAE, December 8, 2017 – Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism has announced that it has acquired Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece Salvator Mundi. The work, hailed as one of the greatest artistic rediscoveries of the last 100 years, will go on display at Louvre Abu Dhabi, alongside another da Vinci masterpiece, La Belle Ferronnière, which is currently on loan from musée du Louvre.
Painted by one of history’s greatest and most renowned artists, Salvator Mundi is one of fewer than 20 known surviving paintings by the Italian Renaissance master. Dating from around 1500, it is an oil on panel painting depicting a half-length figure of Christ as Saviour of the World, facing the viewer, and dressed in flowing robes of lapis and crimson. The figure holds a crystal orb in his left hand as he raises his right hand in benediction.
When the painting sold at auction at Christie’s for $450.3 million in mid-November, becoming the most expensive painting in history, no one knew the buyer or its fate.
“We are delighted to be displaying Salvator Mundi, part of Leonardo da Vinci’s rich legacy, at Louvre Abu Dhabi,” His Excellency Mohamed Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Department of Culture & Tourism said. “his is in line with our ambition to share this extraordinary museum with the world, and our mission to inspire a new generation of cultural leaders and creative thinkers to contribute to our rapidly-changing and tolerant nation.”
“Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece Salvator Mundi fits perfectly into the narrative of Louvre Abu Dhabi, the first universal museum to break down the barriers between the different civilizations,” Manuel Rabaté, Director of Louvre Abu Dhabi, said. “ It will be on display alongside our growing collection, and will be an exceptional treasure that no doubt will be enjoyed by our visitors.”
The museum is also preparing to open its inaugural special exhibition, “From One Louvre to Another: Opening a Museum for Everyone,” on December 21, 2017. It traces the history of musée du Louvre in Paris in the 18th century. Divided into three sections, the exhibition will look at the royal collections at Versailles under King Louis XIV; the residency of the Academy and Salons in the Louvre, converted into a palace for artists; and the eventual creation of the musée du Louvre. The exhibition will feature approximately 150 significant paintings, sculptures, decorative arts and other pieces, mainly from the collections of musée du Louvre, but also from the Château de Versailles.
Louvre Abu Dhabi includes 6,000 square metres of galleries, exhibitions, a Children’s Museum for visitors aged 6 to 12, a research centre, a restaurant, a boutique and a café. Architect Jean Nouvel’s’museum city’ (Arab madina) under a 180-metre dome, comprised of almost 8,000 unique metal stars set in a complex geometric pattern. They can walk its promenades overlooking the sea beneath the dome as the sunlight filters through, creating a moving ‘rain of light’, reminiscent of the overlapping palm trees in the UAE’s oases and traditional souqs.
Dramatic Journey of ‘Salvator Mundi’
The Washington Post reported Leonardo’s Salvator Mundi, “disappeared several times over the course of history, most recently in 1958 when it was sold alongside the rest of the Cook Collection in London. By then, though, the painting’s origin had been obscured due to overpainting and it was credited to da Vinci’s follower Bernardino Luini. It sold for only 45 pounds or about $125 today, CNN reported.
“New York-based art collector and da Vinci expert Robert Simon and art dealer Alexander Parish found the painting in Louisiana in 2005 and purchased it for $10,000.
“It then underwent a six-year restoration and verification process.
“In 2013, a consortium of dealers including Simon, Parish and Warren Adelson sold “Salvator Mundi” for $80 million to a company owned by a Swiss businessman and art dealer Yves Bouvier, Bloomberg reported. Bouvier, in turn, sold it to Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev for $127.5 million in 2014.
“Rybolovlev owned the painting until Nov. 15, when Prince Bader made it the world’s most expensive painting by shelling out $450,312,500 for it. Picasso’s ‘Les Femmes d’Alger’ (“Women of Algiers”) held the previous record of $179,364,992.”
Louvre Abu Dhabi
Louvre Abu Dhabi is a universal museum on Saadiyat Island that exhibits art and artefacts from ancient times to the present day in order to celebrate cultural exchange and diversity. Designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, the museum represents an Arab madina (city) with its 23 permanent galleries, temporary exhibition space, Children’s Museum, auditorium, restaurants, retail and a research centre. Surrounded by the sea, visitors can walk the promenades beneath the museum’s stunning dome. They can experience Nouvel’s enchanting ‘rain of light’, inspired by the shadows of overlapping palm trees in the UAE’s precious oases where travellers once crossed paths.
Art works on display originate from civilisations all over the world. They have been brought together to highlight universal themes and similar influences. This marks a departure from many traditional Western museums which clearly separate objects from different civilisations. Themes at Louvre Abu Dhabi include: the portrayal of power; the representation of the divine; exploring unknown lands; and the dawn of globalisation. Louvre Abu Dhabi has acquired more than 620 objects to date including individual works, series and collections. Some of these will be exhibited alongside 300 works on loan from 13 leading French institutions.
Louvre Abu Dhabi was created out of an intergovernmental agreement between the governments of Abu Dhabi and France in 2007. The agreement stipulates that the name of Louvre is on loan for a period of 30 years; art works from French institutions for 10 years on a decreasing basis as the permanent collection grows; and the programming of temporary exhibitions for 15 years.
Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT) “conserves and promotes the heritage and culture of the emirate… The Department drives the emirate’s tourism sector and markets the destination internationally through a wide range of activities aimed at attracting visitors and investment. Its policies, plans and programs relate to the preservation of heritage and culture, including protecting archaeological and historical sites and to developing museums, including the Louvre Abu Dhabi, Zayed National Museum and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. DCT supports intellectual and artistic activities and cultural events to nurture a rich cultural environment and honor the emirate’s heritage. A key role is to create synergy in the destination’s development through close coordination with its wide-ranging stakeholder base.”
More information at louvreabudhabi.ae.
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