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Leonardo da Vinci's painting finds home in Louvre Abu Dhabi

Louvre Abu Dhabi announcement on Instagram

Abu Dhabi's Department of Culture and Tourism has announced that it has acquired Leonardo da Vinci's rediscovered masterpiece.

The 500-year-old, 66-centimeter-tall painting is called “Salvator Mundi,” Latin for “Savior of the World.” and it is one of fewer than 20 da Vinci paintings known to exist. The work, hailed as one of the greatest artistic rediscoveries of the last 100 years, it is an oil on panel painting depicting a half-length figure of Christ, facing the viewer, and dressed in flowing robes of lapis and crimson. His right hand is raised in blessing and his left hand is holding a crystal ball. The painting was in the private collection of King Charles I of England. It disappeared from view until 1900, when a British collector bought it for 45 pounds. At that time, it was thought to have been painted by a student of Leonardo rather than the master himself. In 2005, a group of art dealers paid less than $10,000 for the artwork. It was badly damaged and partly painted over. They worked extensively to restore it for the last 6 years, and proved that the painting was done by Leonardo da Vinci himself.

Leonardo da Vinci’s painting, was sold for an auction record price of $450m (£335m) at Christies New York in November, 2017, to a then unidentified bidder via telephone after a bidding war that last nearly 20 minutes at the auction house, has put behind the last most expensive painting sold at an auction a Willem de Kooning called 'Interchange' which sold at $300 million.

The auction house said in a statement. “We are delighted to see that this remarkable painting will be available for public view at the Louvre Abu Dhabi.”

The newly opened museum made the announcement this week. The Louvre Abu Dhabi opened on November 11. The waterfront museum in the United Arab Emirates’ capital city includes Middle Eastern objects and paintings, as well as works by Western artists.

It will go on display at Louvre Abu Dhabi, alongside another da Vinci masterpiece, La Belle Ferronnière, which is currently on loan from musée du Louvre.

His Excellency Mohamed Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Department of Culture & Tourism said: "We are delighted to be displaying Salvator Mundi, part of Leonardo da Vinci's rich legacy, at Louvre Abu Dhabi. This is in line with our ambition to share this extraordinary museum with the world, and our mission to inspire a new generation of cultural leaders and creative thinkers to contribute to our rapidly-changing and tolerant nation."

Manuel Rabaté, Director of Louvre Abu Dhabi, said: "Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece Salvator Mundi fits perfectly into the narrative of Louvre Abu Dhabi, the first universal museum to break down the barriers between the different civilisations. It will be on display alongside our growing collection, and will be an exceptional treasure that no doubt will be enjoyed by our visitors."

The museum is also preparing to open its inaugural special exhibition, From One Louvre to Another: Opening a Museum for Everyone, on 21 December 2017. It traces the history of musée du Louvre in Paris in the 18th century. Divided into three sections, the exhibition will look at the royal collections at Versailles under King Louis XIV; the residency of the Academy and Salons in the Louvre, converted into a palace for artists; and the eventual creation of the musée du Louvre. The exhibition features approximately 150 significant paintings, sculptures, decorative arts and other pieces, mainly from the collections of musée du Louvre, but also from the Château de Versailles.

Louvre Abu Dhabi includes 6,000 square metres of galleries, exhibitions, a Children's Museum for visitors aged 6 to 12, a research centre, a restaurant, a boutique and a café. Architect Jean Nouvel's 'museum city' (Arab madina) under a 180-metre dome, comprised of almost 8,000 unique metal stars set in a complex geometric pattern. They can walk its promenades overlooking the sea beneath the dome as the sunlight filters through, creating a moving 'rain of light', reminiscent of the overlapping palm trees in the UAE's oases and traditional souqs.

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