Did Durer see 'Salvator Mundi'?

November 15 2011

Image of Did Durer see 'Salvator Mundi'?

Picture: Alte Pinakothek, Munich/(C) Salvator Mundi LLC/Tim Nighswander/Imaging4Art

A learned reader writes:

Bravo for your excellent and instant review; I am still digesting my own visit. I haven’t so far seen in print, but I’m surely not the first to suggest, a connection between the Salvator Mundi and Dürer’s Munich self-portrait? It may tell us little as Dürer’s itinerary and the disputed date will hardly anchor the early provenance of the Leonardo (and of course it says nothing about other versions)…

Durer was one of the first northern European artists to see the Italian Renaissance at first hand, and went to Italy twice, first from May 1494 to the spring of 1495, and then from 1505-7. Both trips are thought to have centred around Venice. By the time of the second trip he was a famous artist, and even secured important commissions. In a letter to Germany, he wrote:

How shall I long for the sun in the cold; here I am a gentleman, at home I am a parasite.

There is though little evidence of exactly where he went and who he met. The Self-Portrait is dated 1500, so if it was at all influenced by Salvator Mundi it would have to have been on the first trip. But at the National Gallery, Salvator Mundi is dated to '1499 onwards'.

Did Durer see something of Leonardo's work? Most likely. Did he see Salvator Mundi? Who knows, and of course there are plenty of other iconographic prompts for the full-frontal Christ-like portrayal. But it's an intriguing theory. And remember - you heard it here first... 

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