Da Vinci's Optically Odd 'Salvator Mundi' Orb Finally Explained

EnolaGaia

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There have been debates for a long time over the odd appearance of the orb appearing in Salvator Mundi. By using computer rendering techniques to simulate a variety of possible orb configurations scientists now believe they can explain what sort of object it really represents.
Scientists Have Solved One of History's Weirdest Leonardo da Vinci Mysteries

Scientists may have solved one of the great Leonardo da Vinci painting mysteries – why the glass orb in the Salvator Mundi painting (dated to around 1500 CE) shows no signs of the refraction and reflection of light that might be expected.

The answer, according to computer models run by a team from the University of California, Irvine, is that in the painting Jesus is holding a hollow rather than a solid orb, which would have appeared the way that da Vinci depicted it.

This idea of a hollow orb has been mooted before by art historians, alongside alternative hypotheses involving rock crystal, but now an advanced 3D rendering has shown that da Vinci's daubing accurately represents a hollow glass object.

"Our experiments show that an optically accurate rendering qualitatively matching that of the painting is indeed possible using materials, light sources, and scientific knowledge available to Leonardo da Vinci circa 1500" ...

The robes of Christ shown behind the orb in Salvator Mundi (Latin for "saviour of the world") aren't distorted or magnified, while there are also three white spots painted on the surface. Some historians have suggested that da Vinci deliberately painted the orb in an unrealistic way.

However, using a computer graphics technique known as inverse rendering – where three-dimensional details of a scene are extrapolated from a two-dimensional image – the scientists were able to recreate what da Vinci painted hundreds of years ago.

Based on the team's calculations, the orb had a radius of 6.8 centimetres (2.7 inches) and was 25 centimetres (9.8 inches) in front of the subject of the painting. The orb couldn't be more than 1.3 millimetres (0.05 inches) thick, the analysis suggests. ...
FULL STORY: https://www.sciencealert.com/comput...istory-s-weirdest-da-vinci-painting-mysteries
 

Lord Lucan

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Uri Geller claims to own the orb, given to him by non other than Salvador Dali:

Uri's Facebook claim:
https://www.facebook.com/theurigeller/photos/a.517236458373347/2159514314145545/?type=1&theater

An interview where he mentions it (the relevant passage):
Is it true you knew Salvador Dalí?
Uri Geller:
Yes! You know Dalí gave me a special gift that’s now the crown jewel of Cadillac – he gifted me a crystal orb that he proclaimed once belonged to Leonardo da Vinci. Of course, at the time I didn’t believe him, until recently they discovered a new da Vinci painting of a man holding a crystal orb; maybe he was telling the truth after all…
https://www.dazeddigital.com/beauty...n-bending-psychic-mystic-brexit-boris-jonhson
 

ChasFink

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Geller has claimed a lot of things over the years - and so did Dali. Geller's orb is solid - meaning it's unlikely to be the one in Salvator Mundi. It's laughable that Geller is amazed that Dali painted a bent spoon in 1932 - as if no one ever bent a spoon before Geller entered the Earthly realm.
 

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There have been debates for a long time over the odd appearance of the orb appearing in Salvator Mundi. By using computer rendering techniques to simulate a variety of possible orb configurations scientists now believe they can explain what sort of object it really represents.

FULL STORY: https://www.sciencealert.com/comput...istory-s-weirdest-da-vinci-painting-mysteries
IMO, the appearance, full stop, of a scrying tool in the hand of the Son is a massive subversion of the entire dogma. "Our Lord was definitively not a magician". Welll...
 

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Or it's contact juggling, like the Goblin King.
 

EnolaGaia

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IMO, the appearance, full stop, of a scrying tool in the hand of the Son is a massive subversion of the entire dogma. "Our Lord was definitively not a magician". Welll...
As I recall, the orb has long been interpreted as representing "the celestial sphere" (i.e., the universe; Creation) and symbolizing divinity.
 
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chicorea

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As I recall, the orb has long been interpreted as representing "the celestial sphere" (i.e., the universe; Creation) and symbolizing divinity.
Unless DaVinci was slipping some mischief in the interpretantion of his painting, suggesting that a scrying tool was a reproduction of the celestial shere... :)
 

EnolaGaia

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Unless DaVinci was slipping some mischief in the interpretantion of his painting, suggesting that a scrying tool was a reproduction of the celestial shere... :)
I doubt this, because ...

The possibility of Leonardo's having used the spherical figure as such a visual pun depends upon the currency and familiarity (in Leonardo's time) of a crystal ball (orb; orbuculum) being used for scrying.

Allusions to crystal balls / orbs being employed this way date back to the Roman Empire.

This and other scrying methods were condemned by the early Christian church, so there would have been an element of danger in any artist's attributing or associating divination or divinatory symbols along with the orthodox version of the divine (i.e., Jesus).

Our modern familiarity with crystal balls as scrying devices seems to originate with John Dee, who was born years after Leonardo's death.

As such, I'm not certain that a crystal orb was a recognizable symbol of esoteric / hermetic scrying Leonardo would have invoked.

Furthermore ... The single most important clue that the Salvator Mundi figure doesn't represent a three-dimensional crystal ball / orb is the fact the folds in the robe behind it aren't refracted at all. This was the very issue motivating the research cited above.

A crystal ball is, in effect, an omnidirectional lens through which no image can be seen as "transparently" / accurately as depicted in the painting.

Leonardo, as a student and researcher of light and optics, would be unlikely to have made such a representational error.
 

chicorea

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I doubt this, because ...

The possibility of Leonardo's having used the spherical figure as such a visual pun depends upon the currency and familiarity (in Leonardo's time) of a crystal ball (orb; orbuculum) being used for scrying.

Allusions to crystal balls / orbs being employed this way date back to the Roman Empire.

This and other scrying methods were condemned by the early Christian church, so there would have been an element of danger in any artist's attributing or associating divination or divinatory symbols along with the orthodox version of the divine (i.e., Jesus).

Our modern familiarity with crystal balls as scrying devices seems to originate with John Dee, who was born years after Leonardo's death.

As such, I'm not certain that a crystal orb was a recognizable symbol of esoteric / hermetic scrying Leonardo would have invoked.

Furthermore ... The single most important clue that the Salvator Mundi figure doesn't represent a three-dimensional crystal ball / orb is the fact the folds in the robe behind it aren't refracted at all. This was the very issue motivating the research cited above.

A crystal ball is, in effect, an omnidirectional lens through which no image can be seen as "transparently" / accurately as depicted in the painting.

Leonardo, as a student and researcher of light and optics, would be unlikely to have made such a representational error.

You know that, sometimes, I have the pleasure to provoke an answer like this from you, just to learn a little more from your lucidity and your knowledge.

And this is very far from me being ironic. :)
 

EnolaGaia

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From a PM:
Would not a sphere, glass, crystal, solid or hollow, Invert the image ?
The refraction characteristics through a sphere vary. A solid sphere acts as an omnidirectional lens. A hollow sphere's refraction capabilities depend upon the shell's thickness. This is why the cited researchers had to specify a wall thickness (or range thereof ... ) that would permit an un-refracted image to be seen through the hypothetical sphere.
 
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