Walter Isaacson on Leonardo da Vinci: Curiosity “enriches your life”

Walter Isaacson, author of "Leonardo da Vinci," says an important lesson to take away from the famed painter who is at the center of his latest biography is that "being curious about everything not only makes you more creative, it enriches your life. " "What makes him a creative genious I think is that he was curious about everything," Isaacson said on CBS News' "Face the Nation" Sunday. "It was a curiosity that was passionate, playful, and it was curiosity for its own sake, which is what make him feel the patterns of nature," he added. Asked about the mystery and allure of one of a Vinci's most well-known works, the Mona Lisa, Issacson called it a "culmination of somebody who spent a life looking at science anatomy geology, but also philosophy and spirituality." "Every time you see her she seems to have a different emotion, and you have a different emotion, and the smile flickers back on. This is magical. It's showing inner emotion reflected on a face," he said. Isaacson called da Vinci "very collegial, very friendly," saying he had everybody at the time "refer to him as their best friend." He added, "He makes everybody feel the way to be more creative is not to specialize, not to silo yourself as we sometimes do to our kids, but to curious about everything for curiosity's sake." For more of Isaacson's discussion on da Vinci with John Dickerson, watch the full interview above.  Continue Reading

500-year-old Leonardo da Vinci painting sells for $450M at auction

Last Updated Nov 15, 2017 8:29 PM EST NEW YORK -- A 500-year-old da Vinci painting once belonged to a king who died on the chopping block. On Wednesday, it fetched a king's ransom -- on the auction block. It sold for $450 million late Wednesday -- which included the buyer's premium that is paid to the auction house -- in a bidding war that spanned nearly 20 minutes. The price hit $300 million about midway through the auction.Christie's tweeted that it set a world auction record for any work of art sold at auction. Officials didn't immediately identify the buyer. Audible cheers and applause could be heard inside the Christie's auction house in New York when bidding completed."'Salvator Mundi' is a painting of the most iconic figure in the world by the most important artist of all time," said Loic Gouzer, co-chairman of post-war and contemporary art at Christie's. "The opportunity to bring this masterpiece to the market is an honor that comes around once in a lifetime."Six years ago, art collector Robert Simon made a discovery that would rock the art world. He bought and restored what he thought was a merely a copy of Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci's long lost work, the "Salvator Mundi" (Italian for "Savior of the World"). He got it at a bargain, for $10,000."My hope was that this could be an interesting version or copy by a student of Leonardo ...," Simon told CBS News, "... not by the master himself."But turns out, it was a bona fide da Vinci -- one of only 15 the artist had ever created. Wednesday evening at Christie's, it was expected to go for at least $100 million -- but finally went well beyond that as bids poured in.The painting to have held the record for the most paid ever at auction was $179.4 million for Picasso's "Women of Algiers (Version O)" in May 2015, the Associated Press reports.AP writes that the highest known sale price for any artwork was $300 million, for Willem de Kooning's "Interchange," which sold privately in September 2015.Simon Continue Reading

Did Leonardo da Vinci have a hand in a Worcester Art Museum painting?

Visit The Boston Globe Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Comment on this Scroll to top of page By Cate McQuaid Globe Correspondent  March 08, 2018 WORCESTER — When Rita Albertson came to work as a conservator at the Worcester Art Museum in 1993, she believed “A Miracle of Saint Donatus at Arezzo,” a small Italian Renaissance painting, had been painted by Lorenzo di Credi, a lesser Florentine artist.And why not? Lorenzo’s name was on the wall label. Cataloguer Martin Davies had attributed the work to him in the 1970s. But that had been a downgrade: Ever since the painting had turned up at a Paris art sale in 1933, it had been thought to have been painted by a young Leonardo da Vinci. Worcester collectors Theodore T. and Mary G. Ellis purchased it and later donated it to the museum. Advertisement In 1995, Albertson’s friend Laurence Kanter, now the chief curator at the Yale University Art Gallery, was visiting the museum and the painting caught his eye – especially the clothing around Saint Donatus’s legs.  Get The Weekender in your inbox: The Globe's top picks for what to see and do each weekend, in Boston and beyond. Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here Could it indeed be the work of Leonardo? Albertson reserved judgment.“The Mystery of Worcester’s Leonardo,” which opens at the museum Saturday and runs through June 3, poses that question, and examines the painting in context with two others. The show comes in the wake of the sale last November of “Salvator Mundi,” a painting controversially attributed to Leonardo, and in anticipation of a flurry of exhibitions marking the 500th anniversary of the artist’s death next year.“[Kanter’s question] set off this chain of events,” says Albertson, now Worcester’s chief conservator. She’s in the museum’s conservation lab, where the oil Continue Reading

Isaacson’s new book celebrates genius of Leonardo da Vinci

NEW YORK — Researching the life of Leonardo da Vinci left Walter Isaacson in a playful mood. “He’s the most fun, joyous person I can imagine,” says the best-selling biographer, whose “Leonardo da Vinci” was released Oct. 17. “And that was the big surprise. I thought he was going to be this brooding genius.” Isaacson, 65, sees the da Vinci book as the culmination of his biographies about innovators that include works on Steve Jobs, Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein. Long fascinated by those who wedded logic and creativity, he says da Vinci left us with dazzling works of art and scientific breakthroughs and was also a model for a more joyous and spontaneous way of life. Isaacson spent extensive time with Jobs, but his book on da Vinci, who died in 1519, seems more personal. Isaacson doesn’t just describe the “Mona Lisa” and other paintings, but adds analysis and reflection. Basing much of his book on Leonardo’s thousands of notebook entries, with a given page often including sketches and thoughts on anything from human anatomy to his household budget, Isaacson became so caught up in da Vinci’s limitless curiosity that the book’s “coda” is his own brief — admittedly random — report on the tongue of a woodpecker. Isaacson intends the book as a da Vinci tribute, right down to its design: “Leonardo da Vinci” is printed on 80 stock paper with high-definition illustrations. And in the spirit of blending art and technology, Isaacson spoke to museum curators and technology leaders. Bill Gates, who in the 1990s purchased Leonardo’s scientific writings, otherwise known as the Codex Leicester, gave Isaacson special access to the notebooks. Art historian and da Vinci scholar Marco Cianchi, who consulted with Isaacson on the manuscript, calls the book a “biography with a special point of view,” one that joins Leonardo with the Continue Reading

Christ painting by Leonardo da Vinci sells for record $450M

NEW YORK — A painting of Christ by the Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci sold for a record $450 million (380 million euros) at auction on Wednesday, obliterating previous records for artworks sold at auction or privately. The painting, called “Salvator Mundi,” Italian for “Savior of the World,” is one of fewer than 20 paintings by Leonardo known to exist and the only one in private hands. It was sold by Christie’s auction house, which didn’t immediately identify the buyer. The highest price ever paid for a work of art at auction had been $179.4 million (152 million euros), for Picasso’s “Women of Algiers (Version O)” in May 2015, also at Christie’s in New York. The highest known sale price for any artwork had been $300 million (253 million euros), for Willem de Kooning’s “Interchange,” sold privately in September 2015 by the David Geffen Foundation to hedge fund manager Kenneth C. Griffin. A backer of the “Salvator Mundi” auction had guaranteed a bid of at least $100 million (85 million euros), the opening bid of the auction, which ran for 19 minutes. The price hit $300 million about halfway through the bidding. People in the auction house gallery applauded and cheered when the bidding reached $300 million and when the hammer came down on the final bid, $400 million. The record sale price of $450 million includes the buyer’s premium, a fee paid by the winner to the auction house. The 26-inch-tall (66-centimeter-tall) Leonardo painting dates from around 1500 and shows Christ dressed in Renaissance-style robes, his right hand raised in blessing as his left hand holds a crystal sphere. Its path from Leonardo’s workshop to the auction block at Christie’s was not smooth. Once owned by King Charles I of England, it disappeared from view until 1900, when it resurfaced and was acquired by a British collector. At that time it was attributed to a Leonardo Continue Reading

Leonardo da Vinci’s $450 million ‘Salvator Mundi’ painting heads to the Louvre Abu Dhabi

Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” painting, which recently sold for a record $450.3 million, will be exhibited at the new Louvre Abu Dhabi. The museum, which opened its doors in a blaze of publicity last month, announced the exhibit in a short Instagram post and a series of tweets in English, French and Arabic Wednesday. The Louvre Abu Dhabi also announced the news in an Arabic post on its Facebook page. The painting by the Italian Renaissance master grabbed headlines when it was sold for a record-breaking price at Christie’s auction house in New York. SECRET GHOSTLY PORTRAIT OF MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS, DISCOVERED BENEATH 16TH-CENTURY PAINTING The highest known sale price for any artwork had been $300 million for Willem de Kooning's painting "Interchange." "Salvator Mundi," Latin for "Savior of the World,” is one of fewer than 20 paintings by Da Vinci known to exist and the only one in private hands. The painting’s buyer was not identified, prompting speculation about the mystery purchaser. The New York Times claimed Wednesday that the painting was purchased by a Saudi prince.  GEORGE WASHINGTON'S FAMOUS REVOLUTIONARY WAR TENT FOUND IN NEWLY-DISCOVERED PAINTING Continue Reading

Leonardo da Vinci’s Christ painting sells for record $450M

Call it the priciest piece of art — ever.A once-lost portrait of Christ by the iconic Renaissance man Leonardo da Vinci sold Wednesday at auction for $450 million, roughly triple its anticipated price and the most ever paid for a creative work of human genius.Salvator Mundi, or "Savior of the World," was hammered down at a Christie's auction in New York after a quick tour around the world with stops in Hong Kong, San Francisco and London.The work is believed to be just one of 20 known paintings by da Vinci, who began crafting it around 1500 using a painstaking layering technique that often saw works completed over years. Among da Vinci's other fabled paintings — he was also a brilliant inventor — are The Last Supper and the Mona Lisa, which, like all of his other works, belong to museums.The staggering price paid for the modestly sized portrait in fact reflects the rare opportunity for an anonymous collector to add a da Vinci to their collection."This is the holy grail of Old Master paintings, some people call it the male Mona Lisa," Francois de Poortere, head of the Old Masters department at Christie's, told USA TODAY during the painting's stopover in San Francisco last month. "People are deeply taken by this work. You could buy it and just build an entire museum around it."Previously, the highest price ever paid for a work of art at auction had been $179.4 million for Picasso’s “Women of Algiers (Version O)” in May 2015. The highest known sale price for any artwork had been $300 million for Willem de Kooning’s “Interchange,” sold privately in September 2015 by the David Geffen Foundation to hedge fund manager Kenneth C. Griffin.The 26-inch-tall Leonardo painting is unique in that it eschews da Vinci's typical poses — which often featured subjects in three-quarter view with their heads swiveled toward the painter — and instead shows Christ as Continue Reading

Rare Leonardo da Vinci painting auctioned in New York

New York – A painting thought by scholars to be one of only a few by Leonardo da Vinci to have survived the half-millennia since the artist’s death is set to be auctioned Wednesday in New York, where it is guaranteed to sell for at least $100 million.Art lovers have lined up by the thousands at special presale exhibitions in Hong Kong, San Francisco, London and New York to see the only work by the Renaissance master in private hands.The 500-year-old oil painting depicting Christ holding a crystal orb, called “Salvator Mundi” or “Savior of the World,” is one of fewer than 20 paintings by Leonardo da Vinci known to exist, according to Christie’s, the auction house conducting the sale.“I can hardly convey how exciting it is for those of us directly involved in its sale,” said Christie’s specialist Alan Wintermute. “The word ‘masterpiece’ barely begins to convey the rarity, importance and sublime beauty of Leonardo’s painting.”Wintermute called it “the Holy Grail of old master paintings.” A backer of the auction has guaranteed a bid of at least $100 million (85 million euros). Experts have said it might be worth more, except for its generally poor state of preservation and lingering questions about its authenticity.The 26-inch (66-centimeter) painting dates from around 1500 and shows Christ dressed in Renaissance-style robes, his right hand raised in blessing as his left hand holds a crystal sphere.The painting’s history is as mysterious as Jesus’ enigmatic gaze, which invites comparison to a better-known Leonardo work, the “Mona Lisa.”“Salvator Mundi” was owned by King Charles I of England in the mid-1600s and was auctioned by the son of the Duke of Buckingham in 1763.It then disappeared from view until 1900, when it resurfaced and was acquired by a British collector. At the time, it was thought to be a work of a Leonardo disciple, Continue Reading

Tom Riley stars as Leonardo da Vinci in Starz’s ‘Da Vinci’s Demons’

Tom Riley says he has no trouble envisioning a PBS version of the Leonardo da Vinci story, a high-minded series that would dramatize the intellectual and artistic life of one of history’s most brilliant minds. “Sure, I’d have been interested in playing that version,” says Riley, a 32-year-old Brit who has been active in movies, TV and on Broadway, most recently in Tom Stoppard’s “Arcadia.” But PBS isn’t doing da Vinci, at least this year. Starz is. You know Starz. The “Spartacus” series. Kelsey Grammer’s late, lamented “Boss.” The glossy period mob drama “Magic City.” Starz likes to get a little, well, funkier than PBS. On Starz, da Vinci’s story will be called “Da Vinci’s Demons.” It runs eight episodes, starting Friday. Riley plays da Vinci. And yes, the role is a bit looser, earthier and more fanciful than a PBS version might have been. All due respect to PBS, it also might be more fun. The Starz da Vinci does share considerable DNA with a da Vinci who might show up anywhere else, including PBS. He’s the smartest guy in the room, and he knows it. He also knows things people don’t expect him to know. Starz just puts a little more emphasis on things like the “demons” and steamy scenes with Laura Haddock’s Lucretia Donati. But as for Riley, he says that what mainly impressed him were da Vinci’s own body of work and sheer intellect. The series repeatedly dramatizes remarkable innovations that da Vinci brought to primitive fruition, from flying machines to multi-barrel armaments. “He was talking about stuff people still don’t get today,” says Riley. “That 6,000 pages of his diaries exist today is wonderful, but then you realize another 7,000 are missing. You have to wonder what else he was into.” “Da Vinci’s Demons” imagines Continue Reading

New evidence suggests ‘Profile of the Bella Principessa’ might be a Leonardo da Vinci original

TORONTO — A new portrait by Leonardo da Vinci may have been discovered thanks to a centuries-old fingerprint.Peter Paul Biro, a Montreal-based forensic art expert, said that a fingerprint on what was presumed to be a 19th-century German drawing of a young woman has convinced art experts that it's actually a Leonardo.Canadian-born art collector Peter Silverman bought "Profile of the Bella Principessa" at the Ganz gallery in New York on behalf of an anonymous Swiss collector in 2007 for about $19,000. New York art dealer Kate Ganz had owned it for about 11 years after buying it at auction for a similar price.One London art dealer now says it could be worth more than $150 million.If experts are correct, it will be the first major work by Leonardo to be identified in 100 years.Ganz doesn't believe it is."Nothing that I have seen or read in the past two years has changed my mind, I do not believe that this drawing is by Leonardo da Vinci," Ganz told The Associated Press on Wednesday.She declined to comment further.Biro said the print of an index or middle finger was found on the artwork and that it matched a fingerprint from Leonardo's "St. Jerome" in the Vatican. Biro examined multispectral images of the drawing taken by the Luminere Technology laboratory in Paris. The lab used a special digital scanner to show successive layers of the work."Leonardo used his hands liberally and frequently as part of his painting technique. His fingerprints are found on many of his works," Biro said. "I was able to make use of multispectral images to make a little smudge a very readable fingerprint."Technical, stylistic and material composition evidence also point to it being a Leonardo. Biro said there's strong consensus among art experts that it is a Leonardo painting."I would say it is priceless. There aren't that many Leonardos in existence," Biro said. He said he had heard that one London dealer felt it could be worth 100 million British pounds (more than $150 Continue Reading