Leonardo da Vinci Sparks a Diplomatic Tug-of-War

How did a painting that was practically worthless find itself at the center of a diplomatic tug-of-war between Saudi Arabia and France? It’s a fascinating tale.

The struggle surrounds Salvator Mundi, believed by many to be a lost masterpiece of Leonardo da Vinci. After going missing for centuries, the painting reappeared in 1900 in the collection of Englishman Francis Cook. It then passed through several more hands, before being sold at a New Orleans auction in 2005. Described as “a wreck, dark and gloomy,” it went for just over $1,000

An expert art restorer, Diane Modestini, was then brought in. Over the next few years, she slowly cleaned and restored the painting, and became convinced that it was a work of Leonardo da Vinci himself. But not everyone agreed, and the question of “who painted Salvator Mundi?” divided the art world.

The controversy continued when the paining was auctioned in 2017, fetching $450 million, by far the highest price ever paid for a work of art. The buyer, anonymous at the time, was later revealed to be Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. And then things got complicated.

Read all about the diplomatic tussle between France and Saudi Arabia in France Today!

 

Art and Beauty in Provence

Tucked into the mountains north of Nice sits an arboretum unique in the world. It mixes exotic trees, rare flowers, and “no-made” art in a mountain park overlooking the wild Tinel Valley—a perfect day trip for nature lovers and art enthusiasts alike.

The Marcel Kroënlein Arboretum stretches over 17 hectares along the flank of a mountain, rising from an elevation of 1300m to 1700m and creating “a green cathedral. It is home to many mountain flowers and it has assembled a complete collection of the wild roses of the Alpes Maritime region, a feat which garnered it the prestigious Henry Ford Environmental Award.

Besides the protection of flora, the arboretum’s mission is to serve as a place of artistic expression. Every year, artists worldwide gather to display their Land Art among the trees and turn it over to the elements. The forces of nature refashion these pieces over time, as each is sculpted by the sun, wind, rain, and snow.

Learn more about this unique and beautiful place in Perfectly Provence!

And on the subject of beauty, the Rhône River is one of the world’s most majestic. It begins in the Swiss Alps and flows into one end of Lake Geneva, then emerges from the other end and runs all the way to the Mediterranean Sea.

Noted photographer Camille Moirenc has now captured the Rhône in a series of 80 magnificent photographs, on display in Paris. You can see the photos from the comfort of your own home, along with an explanation of each one. They are stunning!

See the photos and learn more about the exhibition at Perfectly Provence!

 

Van Gogh in Paris and Provence

If you are visiting Paris or Provence this year, don’t miss the fabulous sound and light shows at the Carrières de Lumières (Provence) and the new Ateliers des Lumières (Paris). They feature the works of Vincent Van Gogh, projected onto massive interior walls and choreographed with beautiful music. You’ve got to see it to believe it!

The Carrières de Lumières is in Les Baux-de-Provence, near both St-Rémy and Arles, where Van Gogh did much of his most important work. You can combine a visit to the Carrières with a visit to those towns, even seeing the room where Van Gogh lived in the asylum in St-Rémy; it’s a beautiful place and very moving.

Read all about it at The Good Life France!

The Hottest Ticket in Paris

The Carrières de Lumières in Les Baux-de-Provence is one of the area’s top tourist attractions. It’s a totally immersive sound and light show with a cultural purpose. Recent shows have explored the work of artists like Picasso, Chagall and Van Gogh.

It has been such a success that a sister site has opened in Paris, the Atelier des Lumières, and it’s one of the hottest tickets in town. Don’t miss it if you travel to Paris!

Read all about this great new Paris attraction in Frenchly.

The Cave of Forgotten Dreams

Many of us have heard of Lascaux, the cave in France with its prehistoric paintings of pot-bellied horses and other strange animals.  But did you know that even older prehistoric paintings were discovered in 1994, in a cave just north of Avignon?

The Grotte Chauvet was made famous by Werner Herzog’s documentary “Cave of Forgotten Dreams” and has recently been opened to the public.  Well, not the real one, but an almost perfect re-creation.  Like Lascaux, the real cave is closed to the public to prevent damage to its delicate artwork.

You can read the rest of the article at The Good Life France here.