Leonardo da Vinci's rediscovered painting "Salvator Mundi" receives Broadway treatment

Leonardo da Vinci’s rediscovered painting “Salvator Mundi” receives Broadway treatment

Written by Jacqui Palumbo, CNN

A new retract of the drama and mystery surrounding the world’s most expensive painting will take to the stage in New York in 2022 as a great Broadway musical.

“Salvator Mundi!” The Musical, announced by Tony Award-winning producer Caiola Productions, will tell the story of Leonardo da Vinci’s portrait of Jesus from the Renaissance era, allegedly lost for hundreds of years and only rediscovered this century.

“Salvator Mundi!” Screenwriter Deborah Grace Winer believes Da Vinci’s artwork has all the ingredients needed to make a compelling historical narrative for the stage.

“There’s an epic quality about (this story) that I think goes very well with the musicals. It’s almost Shakespearean and operatic in its history,” he said by phone in Manhattan.

The small 26-inch-high panel was commissioned by Louis XII of France around 1500, but after being damaged and covered in dark combs, it was believed for centuries to be a copy of a lesser-known artist. In 2005 the painting was sold at auction as a copy of the original for less than $ 10,000 to a consortium of art dealers. Infrared technology revealed previous reforms at the hands of Jesus, which he said was probably da Vinci himself.

The painting was unveiled as part of a major exhibition at the National Gallery in London in 2011, and its price skyrocketed. “Salvator Mundi” then circulated among private collectors up to its $ 450.3 auction price at Christie’s in 2017.

Leonardo da Vinci’s depiction of Jesus in the Renaissance rubbish became the most expensive painting in the world after it was rediscovered and authenticated. Credit: AFP / AFP / AFP / Getty Images Contributor

It’s a story that begs the question, “What makes art; what gives nothing?” Winer said. “It’s that idea of ​​following an object through history. It’s about power and symbols. For $ 450 million, you could buy the savior of the world.”

The plot is still going on. In another twist, “Salvator Mundi” hasn’t been seen publicly since the auction hammer fell three years ago. The Louvre Abu Dhabi inexplicably delayed its long-awaited preview in 2018, and it has yet to appear, which is believed to have been in storage in Geneva or on the private yacht of Prince Colonel Mohammed bin Salman.

The next musical will not be the first time that the enigmatic life and career of the master of the painter has been reimagined for theater artists. In 1993, critics came to prominence with the unfortunate 1993 West End theater production “Leonardo the Musical: A Portrait of Love,” in the performance of his famous “Mona Lisa,” which left the stage. after only two months.

However, art history is a rare theme for theater. In 1984, Georges Seurat’s punctilious work, “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of the Great Jatte,” became the subject of Stephen Sondheim’s “Sunday in the Park with George,” which won multiple awards. , including the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and which has seen many revalidations. More recently, the pop rock musical “Starry,” about Vincent Van Gogh and his brother Theo, has had performances in Los Angeles and New York.

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“Salvator Mundi” hasn’t been seen since 2017, when it sold for $ 450.3 million to Christie’s.

The “Salvator Mundi” saga may seem like a niche theme for a stage production, but Winer believes some of the most popular musicals have been successful because they are particular stories told in a compelling way. He points to the famous musical “Fiddler on the Roof,” a tale about a Jewish family in a settlement in imperial Russia, premiered in 1964 and performed in various countries around the world for half a century.

Then there’s “Hamilton,” the hip-hop of Lin-Manuel Miranda, one of the first supporters of American constitutionalism, who received far less attention than his historical counterparts like George Washington and Benjamin Franklin.

“Who would have thought that a musical about an obscure founding father would be so fascinating to people?” Winer asked. “Unfavorable stories find incredible public interest. The more specific it is, the more universal it becomes.”

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