Sunday, February 5, 2017

Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio

(1467 - 1516) 
Milan, Lombardia

While discussing the restoration and reattribution of Leonardo’s Salvator Mundi with a distinguished art restorer (married to an equally admired painter and critic,) I was asked by her friend, a well known film maker (married to an even better known director and screenwriter,) who (or what) Boltraffio was. I was able to tell her that he was Leonardo da Vinci’s student, arguably his finest, and a toiler in his studio, to whom works that were sometimes attributed to Leonardo were more often than not assigned to him.  Such was the fate of the Salvator Mundi before its recent cleaning and restoration, after which it was definitively placed among the canonical works of the Master.  One can not say with complete certainty that all of the paintings above were done by Boltraffio, but they are most likely all his, though many of them suffer from the poor restoration practices of earlier generations of preservationists, repainted and varnished so that they may look like the products of various hands; but these are all displayed with his name beneath or to the side, and with good reason.  As should be clear, he was capable of some truly great work that doesn’t owe too much to his most distinguished teacher. 

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