Recent links of note:
“Record-Setting Leonardo da Vinci Work Was Displayed on Saudi Leader’s Yacht”
Summer Said, Kelly Crow, and Benoit Faucon, The Wall Street Journal
Until a few days ago, it was anyone’s guess where Leonardo’s Salvator Mundi (ca. 1499–1510) was hiding. Was it crossing the deserts of Saudi Arabia? Stowed away in a vault in Switzerland? As I wrote last June, one rumor had it that the world’s most expensive painting was out to sea on the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s yacht. The speculation turned out to be correct, though this boating episode is just one small chapter in the headline-grabbing work’s charmed life. Shortly before, Salvator Mundi journeyed all the way to the Louvre in Paris, where the painting’s owner hoped to vindicate its authenticity—still called into doubt by some experts—by displaying it side-by-side with the Mona Lisa as part of the Louvre’s 2019–20 Leonardo retrospective. Tensions boiled over, and Salvator Mundi was soon on its way back to its owner. Read The Wall Street Journal’s report for more.
“Louvre’s hidden tapestry with 3.5kg of gold from Nazi victims”
Martin Bailey, The Art Newspaper
Far away from the bustle of the Louvre’s crowded Mona Lisa gallery, a tapestry with a terrible history lies hidden in the storage vaults of the museum. Martin Bailey of The Art Newspaper details a special investigation into the creation and provenance of this macabre tapestry, commisioned in Nazi Germany during the height of the Second World War.
“Bonaparte Meets His Match”
Munro Price, Literary Review
The story of Alexander the Great’s cutting of the Gordian Knot (ca. 333 B.C.) is heavily imbued with symbolism. What centuries of men had been unable to overcome—an impossibly tied knot and a ritual trial for a future “King of Asia”—Alexander “solved” by cutting through with one blow from his sword. Robert Graves wrote that Alexander’s “brutal cutting of the knot . . . ended an ancient dispensation,” and thus the old deference to an arcane ritual was overcome by a new kind of power embodied by the Macedonian leader. It was a moment of iconoclasm.
Napoleon—whose idol was Alexander—swept aside the institutions of the European continent with similar disregard for the sacred and vaunted. By 1806, he had effectively dismantled the millenium-old Holy Roman Empire. As Munro Price recounts in a review of a new book on Napoleon and the Pope, the Holy See itself was not above Napoleon’s Alexandrian ambition. Read the shocking tale of Pope Pius VII’s imprisonment by Napoleon’s agents and the Catholic Church’s struggle against the First French Empire in Literary Review.
“Music for a While #43: Embraceability.”
Jay Nordlinger, The New Criterion’s music critic, talks music—but, more important, plays music.
“The band plays on,” by Paul du Quenoy. On a live performance of Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi by Palm Beach Opera.