Why does the orb in this painting ignore diffraction and reflection ? Image Credit: Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi, or ‘Saviour of the World’, made waves in the art world recently when it sold for $460 million at auction – making it the most valuable painting in history.
Incredibly, it originally sold in the 1950s for a mere $45 because it was believed to be a copy.
But is the painting really a da Vinci ? In recent years, art experts have hotly debated several key inconsistencies with the piece that suggest that the Renaissance genius may not have created it.
Chief among these is the way that the artist has painted the orb that Jesus is holding.
According to biographer Walter Isaacson, Salvator Mundi was painted when Leonardo was 48 years old – a time of his life when he had been deeply invested in studying physics and optics.
The orb in the painting however does not exhibit the diffraction of light, nor reflection of the hand expected of a glass sphere positioned as it is in the piece.
Da Vinci would have never made such a mistake – at least not accidentally – so could he have left out these details on purpose ? On this possibility, Isaacson wrote that Leonardo may have been “subtly trying to impart a miraculous quality to Christ and his orb.”
As things stand however, we may never know for sure.