Expert comment: World record sale of Leonardo da Vinci painting

The 500-year-old painting of Christ believed to have been painted by Leonardo da Vinci and sold for a world record $450m (£341m) was re-authenticated six years ago, says a University history of art expert.

Dr Grant Pooke, a member of the University’s Art History and Visual Cultures research centre, comments that the apparent representation of rock crystal was significant in the authentication process, carried out by leading Leonardo specialist, Professor Martin Kemp.

‘The Salvator Mundi (Saviour of the World, c.1506-13?) was among works by the artist re-authenticated before the major National Gallery exhibition, Leonardo Da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan (2011).

‘The identification of the apparent representation of rock crystal within the orb – holding the world in microcosm – was a significant and telling feature. Leonardo had a long established and keen professional interest in geology and rock structures which frequently appear within the landscape iconography of his other compositions.

‘Now following the sale, there’s art world speculation about where the painting might re-appear – if indeed it does. Some have suggested that the New Louvre in Abu Dhabi as a possible destination, as it will be without work by the famous Renaissance artist when the present loan arrangements with the Paris Louvre come to an end.’