Caradosso, Pope Julius II [obverse] and View of Saint Peter’s [reverse], 1506 (photo: Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington)
Let’s face it: if you live around here, you’re probably not going to be doing a lot of driving this weekend. With all the pandemonium surrounding Pope Francis’s visit to Philadelphia, many of us are either hunkering down at home or getting out of town altogether.
What better time to think about all your favorite popes in art? Of course the first pope, Saint Peter, is a key figure. During the Middle Ages, there were a bunch of popes named Gregory and Innocent and whatnot. There was a Saint Francis (who was said to have miraculously appeared to Pope Nicholas V), but until 2013 there had never been a Pope Francis. For awhile, the Papal Court even moved from Rome to southern France, and sometimes there were simply too many popes at once. At the height of the Renaissance, Julius II commissioned Michelangelo’s ceiling in the Sistine Chapel, Raphael’s Stanze frescoes, and Bramante’s design for rebuilding Saint Peter’s Basilica. He also collected ancient sculptures like the Apollo Belvedere and Laocoön, which would inspire generations of artists. But not everybody was a fan of such papal indulgence, or indulgences for that matter. Martin Luther and other reformers soon challenged the authority of the Roman Catholic Church. When the Medici Pope Clement VII refused to annul the first marriage of Henry VIII, the king essentially declared himself the pope of England. The Vatican countered with a series of strong popes in the later 16th and 17th centuries. Innocent X was the patron of the Baroque sculptor Algardi, while Alexander VII preferred Bernini. But the temporal power of the popes began to wane in the 18th century, and by the death of the Pius IX in 1878, the Vatican complex was all that remained under their control.
The Salvator Mundi, newly attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, as it appears after restoration (photo from Mail Online)
The appearance of the Salvator Mundi before restoration (photo from Mail Online)
Is this a newly discovered painting by Leonardo da Vinci? Some experts say it is.
It has long been known that the famous Renaissance artist painted a picture of Christ as the Savior of the World (Salvator Mundi), but while many copies and emulations by Leonardo’s followers have survived, the master’s own original was presumed lost.
After a recent cleaning (left), several Leonardo scholars now think that one of these supposed “copies” is in fact the original. Its authenticity, they believe, was obscured by centuries of retouching and overpainting (right).
The newly unveiled “Leonardo” will be exhibited at the National Gallery in London later this year. You can read more about the painting in Mail Online and Art News.
What do you think? Is this really a long-lost masterpiece by Leonardo da Vinci?