Prado excludes record Salvator Mundi from Leonardo's autograph works

The Prado Museum takes a stand in the debated Salvator Mundi issue of record: in the catalog of the current exhibition, it classifies it among the works attributed to or supervised by Leonardo, and excludes it from the genius' autograph works.

At the Prado Museum, the exhibition Leonardo and the copy of the Mona Lisa, curated by Ana González Mozo, is underway until January 23, 2022, which aims to present works made by pupils and followers of Leonardo da Vinci in order to make known the most recent results of research on the inner circle of artists linked to the genius.

The fact that is causing the most discussion has to do with the exhibition’s catalog, as the latter includes among the “works attributed, workshop or supervised by Leonardo” the Salvator Mundi that has become famous as the record-breaking painting, since it was sold in 2017 at auction by Christie’s to the tune of $450 million. It was purchased by Mohammed bin Salman, crown prince of Saudi Arabia. The Prado therefore categorically excludes the famous Salvator Mundi from Leonardo’s definitely autograph works.

In addition to taking a firm stance on this long-debated question of attribution, the curator writes in her catalog essay, “some specialists believe there was a prototype now lost, while others think the much-debated Cook version is the original.” Cook’s version would be the painting of record, named after the London collector who acquired it in 1900, Francis Cook.

Ana González Mozo argues, however, that there is no painted prototype, but proposes, as the closest version to Leonardo’s lost original, another copy of the Salvator Mundi, the Ganay version dated between 1505 and 1515. Purchased by the Marquis de Ganay in 1939, it was sold at auction by Sotheby’s in 1999 and is now held in an anonymous private collection. the exhibition catalog features a full-page image of the Ganay Salvator Mundi, while the Cook version is not even illustrated.

The Ganay version is physically displayed within the Prado’s exhibition itinerary, and about the Cook version, Vincent Delieuvin, curator of the major Leonardo retrospective held held in 2019 at the Louvre (even then the painting in question was not on display) and author of the opening essay of the Prado exhibition catalog, says that “it would have been nice to have the painting next to the beautiful Ganay version, which is a high-level workshop version,” and that “it is to be hoped that a future permanent exhibition of the work will allow it to be reexamined with greater objectivity.”

Image: The Cook version of the Salvator Mundi (c. 1499; oil on panel; 65.6 x 45.4 cm; Private collection)

Prado excludes record Salvator Mundi from Leonardo's autograph works
Prado excludes record Salvator Mundi from Leonardo's autograph works

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