Scholars Have Found a Lost Raphael Painting in Spain

Raphael, Madonna of Foligno (ca. 1511). A smaller copy of the work residing in a private collection in Cordoba, Spain, is now said to be by the master's hand. Collection of the Vatican Museums. Photo by Carlo Colombo, public domain.

In an uncharacteristic move for the master, Raphael appears to have painted two versions of Madonna of Foligno (circa 1511), the Art Newspaper reports. In addition to the well-known canvas at the Vatican Museums in Rome, a smaller copy of the painting is said to reside in a private collection in Cordoba, Spain.

The work’s rediscovery has been announced by Luis Rodrigo Rodríguez Simón, a conservator and lecturer at Spain’s University of Granada. The painting is being called The Madonna of Foligno, Small, and could have been a study for the Vatican masterpiece. Originally painted on wood panel, the smaller work was transferred to canvas during the late 19th century by a conservator at the Louvre.

Raphael painted the Vatican’s Madonna of Foligno for the Church of Santa Maria of Aracoeli in Rome. The painting’s name comes from the monastery of Santa Ana in Foligno, Perugia, which housed the work from 1565 to 1797, when it was one of a large number of artworks seized by Napoleon.

Madonna of Foligno was exhibited at the Louvre until 1816, when it was returned to the Vatican. Skeptics believe that the newly authenticated Raphael is more likely a copy painted during the original’s stay in Paris.

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