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Wednesday, 17 July, 2002, 09:32 GMT 10:32 UK
Raphael behind Madonna painting
Ashmolean Museum
The Ashmolean Museum houses an identical sketch by Raphael
Art experts in Rome have used infra-red technology to prove that Renaissance painter Raphael was the driving force behind an oil painting of the Madonna.

The picture, in the city's Borghese Gallery, is credited to one of Raphael's most talented prodigies, Guilio Romano.

However, experts have suspected for some time that the Renaissance master was in fact behind the work - and now a new viewing technique has confirmed this.

The original idea is almost certainly Raphael's...this is an extremely important discovery

Claudio Strinati, Rome Museum Association

The infra-red device has revealed the outlines of a picture almost identical to a Raphael sketch owned by Oxford's Ashmolean Museum.

"The original idea for the painting, its conception and the layout of the figures is almost certainly Raphael's," said Claudio Strinati, head of the Rome Museum Association.

"This is an extremely important discovery."

Art expert Konrad Oberhuber first suggested in the 1990s that the painting, Madonna with baby and San Giovannino should be at least partly credited to Raphael, after comparing it with the sketch at the Ashmolean.

The sketch portrays Madonna in profile, kissing the baby Jesus. The painting shows the Madonna and baby face on.

However, the infra-red imaging of the painting reveals a scene much closer to that of the Ashmolean sketch.
Raphael
Raphael trained many young artists in Rome

Raphael died in Rome in 1520 at the age of 37, having gathered around around him a group of talented artists who were keen to emulate the style he created.

His workshop employed many people to fulfil his commissions, many of which were not completed until after his death.

This has made authentication of many of his paintings very difficult.

See also:

23 Jan 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
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