A Leonardo da Vinci Scholar Says He Knows the True Painter of the $450 Million 'Salvator Mundi'

Carl Court, Getty Images
Carl Court, Getty Images

Salvator Mundi broke the record for most expensive painting of all time when a Saudi prince purchased it for $450 million at auction in 2017. The piece, a portrait of Christ, was presented by Christie's as an authentic work of Leonardo da Vinci, but from the time of the purchase, art experts have been skeptical of that claim. Now, The Guardian reports that an art historian at Oxford University may have figured out who the true artist is: Leonardo's assistant.

In a forthcoming update of his book, titled Leonardo da Vinci, Matthew Landrus makes the case that the majority of Salvator Mundi was actually painted by Bernardino Luini. Luini worked with Leonardo in his studio and was heavily influenced by his mentor's art style. According to Landrus, the gold bands in Salvator Mundi, the fabric of the robes, and the modeling of Christ's face all bear strong similarities to elements found in other known Luini works.

The most expensive Luini painting sold at auction to date cost only $654,545, which would make Salvator Mundi worth significantly less than its selling price if the theory holds true. But Landrus says calling it a Leonardo da Vinci painting isn't completely inaccurate: While Luini painted most of the work, he says that Leonardo likely painted 5 to 20 percent.

Before the painting hit the auction block, scientists analyzed its composition to reveal it contained rare and expensive pigments that would have only been available to an artist of Leonardo's stature in 1500. If the painting did come from Leonardo's studio, but not from his hand, that would explain the inconsistencies many art scholars have pointed out.

Salvator Mundi will be displayed at the Louvre Abu Dhabi this September before moving to the Louvre in Paris next year.

[h/t The Guardian]

National Portrait Gallery Celebrates Aretha Franklin With Week-Long Exhibition

Courtesy of Angela Pham BFA
Courtesy of Angela Pham BFA

With the passing of Aretha Franklin on August 16, 2018, the world has lost one of its most distinctive voices—and personalities. As celebrities and fans share their memories of the Queen of Soul and what her music meant to them, the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery will pay tribute to the legendary songstress's life with a week-long exhibition of her portrait.

Throughout her career, Franklin earned some of the music industry's highest accolades, including 18 Grammy Awards. In 1987, she became the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Nearly 30 years later, in 2015, the National Portrait Gallery fêted Franklin with the Portrait of a Nation Prize, which recognizes "the accomplishments of notable contemporary Americans whose portraits reside in the National Portrait Gallery collection." (Madeline Albright, Spike Lee, and Rita Moreno are among some of its recent recipients.)

Milton Glaser's lithograph of Aretha Franklin, which is displayed at The National Portrait Gallery
© Milton Glaser

Franklin's portrait was the creation of noted graphic designer Milton Glaser, who employed "his characteristic kaleidoscope palette and innovative geometric forms to convey the creative energy of Franklin's performances," according to the Gallery. The colorful lithographic was created in 1968, the very same year that the National Portrait Gallery opened.

Glaser's image will be installed in the "In Memoriam" section of the museum, which is located on the first floor, on Friday, August 17 and will remain on display to the public through August 22, 2018. The Gallery is open daily from 11:30 a.m. until 7 p.m. and admission is free.

This Wall Chart Shows Almost 130 Species of Shark—All Drawn to Scale

Pop Chart Lab
Pop Chart Lab

Shark Week may be over, but who says you can’t celebrate sharp-toothed predators year-round? Pop Chart Lab has released a new wall print featuring nearly 130 species of selachimorpha, a taxonomic superorder of fish that includes all sharks.

The shark chart
Pop Chart Lab

Called “The Spectacular Survey of Sharks,” the chart lists each shark by its family classification, order, and superorder. An evolutionary timeline is also included in the top corner to provide some context for how many millions of years old some of these creatures are. The sharks are drawn to scale, from the large but friendly whale shark down to the little ninja lanternsharka species that lives in the deep ocean, glows in the dark, and wasn’t discovered until 2015.

You’ll find the popular great white, of course, as well as rare and elusive species like the megamouth, which has been spotted fewer than 100 times. This is just a sampling, though. According to World Atlas, there are more than 440 known species of shark—plus some that probably haven't been discovered yet.

The wall chart, priced at $29 for an 18” x 24” print, can be pre-ordered on Pop Chart Lab’s website. Shipping begins on August 27.

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