Two Unknown Paintings by Raphael Discovered on the Vatican's Walls

The Vatican Museums are home to numerous famous art treasures, created by masters like Caravaggio, Leonardo da Vinci, and Michelangelo. Now, artnet News reports, the galleries can add two previously unattributed paintings by Italian Renaissance painter Raphael to their list.

Inside the Palace of the Vatican is a suite of four frescoed rooms called Raphael's Rooms. During the early 16th century, they served as Pope Julius II's apartments. The Pope commissioned Raphael and his pupils to paint the rooms, and they adorned each one with a different theme.

Three of the rooms contain paintings by the master himself. But experts didn't think that the fourth—and largest—chamber, called the Room of Constantine, bore Raphael's personal handiwork.

The Room of Constantine depicts four significant moments in the life of Emperor Constantine I, who's credited with converting the Roman Empire to Christianity. Experts had always believed that Raphael had sketched plans for the frescoes, and his pupils finished them after Raphael's sudden death on April 6, 1520. But new restoration efforts prompted experts to take a closer look, and they noticed that two allegorical figures in the frescoes appear to have been painted by Raphael.

One fresco depicts the Vision of the Cross, the moment Emperor Constantine claimed to have seen an image of a holy cross in the sky before a decisive battle. At the edge of the large-scale painting floats a woman who represents Friendship, Smithsonian reports. A second scene, which depicts the battle between Constantine and his pagan brother-in-law Maxentius, shows the figure of Justice. Experts now say that Raphael painted both images.

Italian newspaper La Stampa was the first to break the news, which they reportedly received from a YouTube video released by the Vatican’s press office.

"By analyzing the painting, we realized that it is certainly by the great master Raphael," said restorer Fabio Piacentini, according to a translation provided by artnet News. "He painted in oil on the wall, which is a really special technique. The cleaning and removal of centuries of previous restorations revealed the typical pictorial features of the master."

"We know from 16th-century sources that Raphael painted two figures in this room as tests in the oil technique before he died," added art historian Arnold Nesselrath, who serves as the Vatican Museums' technical and scientific research head. "According to the sources, these two oil painted figures are of a much higher quality than the ones around them."

"Raphael was a great adventurer in painting and was always trying something different," Nesselrath continued. "When he understood how something worked, he sought a fresh challenge. And so, when he arrived in the largest room of the papal apartment, he decided to paint this room in oil, but he managed to paint only two figures, and his students continued in the traditional method, leaving only these two figures as autographs of the master."

[h/t artnet News]

Save Up to 93 Percent on 8 Gaming Accessories and Enter to Win a Free Nintendo Switch Bundle

Stackcommerce
Stackcommerce

The Nintendo Switch is one of the hottest video game consoles of the past few decades, with worldwide sales topping 55 million (that's more than the Super Nintendo and Nintendo 64, and it's only a few million behind the original NES). The problem with a console being so popular is that it's not always easy to spot one on store shelves. If you haven't had luck finding one in recent months, you can enter this contest to win your very own Nintendo Switch, along with a copy of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, a pair of Switch-compatible Logitech wireless headphones, and a $300 Nintendo gift card. Head here for more details.

While you wait to see who wins, check out these other great deals on gaming accessories.

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Prices subject to change.

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TASCHEN Is Celebrating Its 40th Anniversary With a New $25 Greatest Hits Line

TASCHEN
TASCHEN

In 1980, Benedikt Taschen started his eponymous comic shop in Cologne, Germany, which eventually evolved into TASCHEN, a world-renowned publisher of high-end books on art, photography, and pop culture. In its four decades of existence, the brand has made a name for itself by spreading the work of photographers and artists like Annie Leibovitz, Peter Lindbergh, Jeff Koons, and Sebastião Salgado, along with chronicling the history of various cultural trends, art movements, and movies.

To celebrate their 40th anniversary, the publisher is reprinting some of its most popular books for only $25 each.

TASCHEN has covered everything from the paintings of Bruegel to the history of Marvel Comics.TASCHEN

For the comic book and cartoon lover in your life, TASCHEN has gone back to its roots with books about the history of Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse—available to pre-order on TASCHEN or Amazon—and the golden age of Marvel Comics from 1961 to 1978, complete with the behind-the-scenes stories of superheroes like Spider-Man and the Hulk (available here).

Interior pages from TASCHEN's The Marvel Age of Comics 1961–1978 – 40th Anniversary Edition.TASCHEN

Cinephiles will love collections like The Star Wars Archives from 1977 to 1983, which features concept art, original script excerpts, and on-set photos from the original trilogy. There is also a book for The Godfather aficionados that collects 300 behind-the-scenes photos from the iconic series. That one is available for pre-order on TASCHEN and Amazon.

For a full list of the titles TASCHEN is offering for its 40th anniversary, head here.

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.