New Raphael masterpiece has been discovered in the Vatican, following the recent restoration at the Hall of Constantine; according to experts this may be the Renaissance Master’s last surviving work.
The mural spreading along with the known frescoes in the hall of Constantine depicts the allegories of Justice (Latin: Iustitia) and Friendship (Comitas). The figures form part of an iconographic cycle connected with Constantine the Great, commissioned by Pope Leo X (Medici) as the decoration of a hall designated to host diplomatic meetings.
The work stands out for its technical details: to paint it, Raphael used oil pigments on a substratum of a layer of hot rosin (Greek pitch) and another of white plaster spread on the wall; the nails supporting the rosin layer were retrieved beneath the wall’s surface.
Most importantly, the two figures may represent the Master’s last creations. Stylistically, Raphael’s ‘hand’ is visible on the two allegories’ figures when comparing them with the surrounding frescoes, which were created by the artist’s students and collaborators, essentially after their Master’s sudden demise in 1520. If so, Raphael’s career did not finish with the Transfiguration (made in collaboration with Sebastiano del Piombo) as previously thought.
According to The Vatican news, the discovery of this new Raphael masterpiece comes as a result of a restoration project running since 2015 courtesy of the Restoration Laboratory of the Vatican Museums under the supervision of Francesca Persegati, the scientific direction of Guido Cornini, coordinated by Fabio Piacentini, and supported by the Patrons of the Arts.
During the project, experts focused on cleaning Raphael’s masterpiece using methods allowing for the Master’s signature chromatic tones to clearly emerge. Till now, restoration of the Hall’ s three walls has been completed while the fourth wall, hosting a scene depicting “The Donation of Rome”, and painted by Raphael’s disciples, is set to be restored during the summer.
The restored walls with the new discovery were unveiled May 13 in the presence of the Vatican Museums Director Barbara Jatta, technicians and experts.
Due to the outbreak of COVID-19 the Vatican had to close a grand exhibition on Raphael’s work held on the occasion of his 500 year-death-anniversary.