We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

The Intriguing Nature of Symbolism in Salvator Mundi

The whole doc is available only for registered users

A limited time offer! Get a custom sample essay written according to your requirements urgent 3h delivery guaranteed

Order Now

Leonardo da Vinci was an impeccable painter and Salvator Mundi was no less of an artwork than any other of his work. “On November 15 2017 the painting Salvator Mundi („Savior of the World“) attributed to Leonardo at a Christie’s auction was sold for the price of $400 million, the highest price ever paid for a work of art.” Some actually believe that the price for which it was sold was way over the price which it was actually worth, but is it really so, due to the painting’s story and emotional value which actually adds to the price. Not to mention, the painting is filled with symbolism which is quite diverse in its meaning, this ranges from astronomy to religion, which is all brought into one painting.

To be able to fully understand the meaning of the painting, countless layers of symbolism need to be analysed and so the first key thing to observed would be the figure itself. The depicted pose of the character in the painting is called the benediction, “Jesus gesturing in blessing with his right hand while holding a crystal orb in his left hand”, and this is used to represent “a short invocation for divine help, blessing and guidance, usually at the end of worship service. It can also refer to a specific Christian religious service including the exposition of the eucharistic host in the monstrance and the blessing of the people with it.” Due to the religious nature of the painting, “Salvator Mundi”, Leonardo da Vinci has used the pose of benediction to portray the divine nature of the person in the painting, and his involvement and position in religion itself, although it is speculated what is the true meaning of the pose itself.

This is quite interesting since Leonardo da Vinci wasn’t that interested in the religious side of the world, and was more occupied with the scientific, more technical side. He was truly a great inventor of his time and it can be seen in his works of art, and thus understanding symbolism in his painting opens new doors of understanding and appreciation for his work. “As a material, rock crystal and its transparency provide the opportunity to study vision in Gothic religious objects, especially because of its increased prevalence in many fourteenth-century reliquaries”. Although the figure is important, “The crystal ball is perhaps the most striking element in Leonardo’s Salvator work” . This is due to the significance of the crystal ball, and the “the three ‘dots’ on the surface”1.

The symbolic value of the crystal ball and the three dots can be compared to the telescope which Leonardo has had used and it was made with a “concave and a convex lens” , this is created in such a way that it can be used to magnify any object and thus make it easier for the user to spot any astronomical bodies, and because of this, the discovery of the celestial bodies was made possible. “The painting is also an educational image in this sense. One could perhaps say the ‘classical’ Salvator Mundi, that is the Christ connected to the world, has ‘mutated’ into a natural scientist whose new tasks include the reconstruction of God’s unfathomable creation.” To be able to understand the deeper meaning and the symbolic use of the crystal sphere by Leonardo is to comprehend the thoughts and the beliefs of the artist himself and not even that, there is further information that can be extracted from the use of symbolism.

Thus, the crystal ball plays a big role in the painting, but the clothing in the painting “Salvator Mundi” reveals even more information which helps us to understand more about it. Due to Leonardo’s love for astronomy, and due to his intensive observation for the constellation of stars and planets, it was natural for him to include it into the clothing of “Salvator Mundi”. “Edging at the neck area and the two stoles on the breast” on top of the border, this oddly resembles the letter U which “denotes experimentally the YEAR NUMBER: the year ONE, that is 1501.” While looking further into the garments of Jesus Christ, we can see that the crossing stoles resemble an X shape which in the “Latin numerical”1 system is the number 10, thus the “tenth month of every year” is October. Although this is quite enough detail found in the clothing, it isn’t over, furthermore, information could be seen in the direction of light which could be seen on “the sleeve of the left hand pointing upwards”, which indicates the moon has shone on the left side in early October ”.

On 4th October 1501 the decreasing moon was documented” ,only by looking at the visual imagery, scientist were able to approximately pinpoint the date on which Leonardo had gotten the inspiration to start developing the painting “Salvator Mundi”. With the “Two stones, one smaller and one larger, are framed by an U; another decorates the overlap point of the stoles. This ‘arrangement’ corresponds exactly to the sequence of the planets Saturn, Mars and Jupiter of this month! The stones specified by the U correspond to Saturn and Mars. Delimited from this pair, the lower ‘pearl’ represents Jupiter. Leonardo observed three planets in October 1501.” The reason for which Leonardo has specifically chosen that day and that time is unknown some hypothesize that he has seen something out of the ordinary at that time and wanted to immortalise it through painting.

Leonardo da Vinci “(1452–1519), Italian painter, scientist, and engineer. His paintings include The Last Supper (1498) and the Mona Lisa (1504–05). He devoted himself to a wide range of other subjects, from anatomy and biology to mechanics and hydraulics.”(Fig.5)(Fig. 6) Due to his vast knowledge in quite a few fields, we can say that he is able to create art work of high quality and calibre, thus the symbolism which is found in his art further enhance the experience and the value of the painting which he has done due to the stories which can be unravelled throughout an in depth analysis, this will result in the value of the painting to rise in price and due to the affect which it will have on the human psyche. Leonardo had surpassed his master in his early years and he wasn’t bound completely by his patrons, this gave him a sense of freedom where he could make his own projects with his own ideas and visions which weren’t influenced by them.

Overall the painting “Salvator Mundi”, which was priced and sold over $400 million, was not an overpriced item, due to the painting being so thoroughly thought out and planned, even though there are some speculations that the painting wasn’t done fully by Leonardo, some sources say that it was “between 5% and 20%” which Leonardo da Vinci contributed to the development of the painting, but it could have been developed and finished by one of his apprentices, and even so it would still be as valuable as if it was done by Leonardo himself. The symbolic nature of the painting and the detail and thought process in making it has given us not only a little insight into the painting’s story. In conclusion an arts work can’t be and never is completely objectively priced and most of the price is made up of a collective of subjective thoughts and beliefs, and while the painting is important, if the story behind the painting is vast and the author is well known then that is where it goes up in price.

Related Topics

We can write a custom essay

According to Your Specific Requirements

Order an essay
Materials Daily
100,000+ Subjects
2000+ Topics
Free Plagiarism
All Materials
are Cataloged Well

Sorry, but copying text is forbidden on this website. If you need this or any other sample, we can send it to you via email.

By clicking "SEND", you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy. We'll occasionally send you account related and promo emails.
Sorry, but only registered users have full access

How about getting this access

Your Answer Is Very Helpful For Us
Thank You A Lot!


Emma Taylor


Hi there!
Would you like to get such a paper?
How about getting a customized one?

Can't find What you were Looking for?

Get access to our huge, continuously updated knowledge base

The next update will be in:
14 : 59 : 59