As Christie’s aggressively marketed Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi before the work sold for an astonishing $450m last November, the art world raged anew with questions about the painting’s attribution—even though London’s National Gallery had largely settled the debate by including the work in its 2011-12 Leonardo show.
This spring, the Worcester Art Museum (WAM) in Massachusetts will put the complex process of identifying a Leonardo at the heart of a new exhibition. The Mystery of Worcester’s Leonardo (10 March-3 June) makes the case that a work that has been in the museum’s collection since 1940, A Miracle of Saint Donatus of Arezzo (around 1479-85), should be credited to the Renaissance master.
“We are not afraid of any controversy,” says a confident Matthias Waschek, the museum’s director. External experts are more cautious, with one scholar calling the new attribution “plausible”, while another has expressed doubts.
The museum will display the work with another predella panel, the Annunciation (around 1475-78), from the Musée du Louvre in Paris. Both have been attributed mostly to Lorenzo di Credi. Drawing on research by Rita Albertson, WAM’s chief conservator; Laurence Kanter, the chief curator of Yale University Art Gallery, and Bruno Mottin, the senior curator of the Centre de Recherche et de Restauration des Musées de France, the exhibition will argue that Leonardo was the main author of both paintings.
• The Mystery of Worcester’s Leonardo, Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, Massachusetts, 10 March-3 June