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Andrea Previtali, Salvator Mundi

Key facts
Full title Salvator Mundi
Artist Andrea Previtali
Artist dates about 1480 - 1528
Date made 1519
Medium and support Oil on poplar
Dimensions 61.6 × 53 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Salting Bequest, 1910
Inventory number NG2501
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Salvator Mundi
Andrea Previtali

Christ appears as Salvator Mundi, or ‘Saviour of the World’, with a crystal orb in his left hand and his right hand raised in blessing, its shadow falling across his breast. The orb, surmounted by a golden cross, symbolises Christ’s rule on earth. His direct gaze and frontal pose engage the worshipper on a personal level. The painted marble frame makes it appear as though Christ occupies a real space and that we could reach into the picture and touch him. It also adds to the sense that the orb is projecting towards us.

The inscription means ‘Andrea Previtali painted this in 1519’. The painting was probably made for a private patron in Bergamo shortly after Previtali’s return from Venice. This type of painting was popular in Venice, perhaps because large numbers of similar pictures were imported to the city from the Netherlands. There is another, earlier work by Previtali of Christ Blessing in the National Gallery’s collection.

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