Raphael Masterpiece Discovered After Hiding in Plain Sight for 500+ Years

Allegory of Justice, from the Room of Constantine, Vatican Palace by Raphael.
Allegory of Justice, from the Room of Constantine, Vatican Palace by Raphael.

Art Historians Claim Raphael Actually Painted the Allegory of Justice

Art historians now claim that Raphael did indeed paint the Allegory of Justice and Friendship in the Raphael Rooms of the Vatican Palace. Previously the Renaissance master’s studio assistants were assigned with the creation of the works.

Recognized by Restorers

“By analyzing the painting, we realized that it is certainly by the great master Raphael,” restorer Fabio Piacentini said, according to Artnet. “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.”

Art Historians Agree

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

It Makes Sense

The figures have been hiding in plain sight since the decoration of the four rooms was commissioned in 1509. The fact that they were painted by Raphael is not particularly startling.

Such a division of labor was fairly standard in the Renaissance. Assistants and apprentices were assigned to paint secondary and tertiary figures.

They mixed pigments and prepped drawings. They painted the ornamentation within compositions. Key figures were, therefore, the focus of the masters.

The figures are in oil painted directly on the wall. That is in keeping with Raphael’s explorations at the time. But the rest of the works are frescoes, which was the traditional medium of the day.


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Courtney Jordan

About Courtney Jordan

  Courtney is the editor of Artist Daily. For her, art is one of life’s essentials and a career mainstay. She’s pursued academic studies of the Old Masters of Spain and Italy as well as museum curatorial experience, writing and reporting on arts and culture as a magazine staffer, and acquiring and editing architecture and cultural history books. She hopes to recommit herself to more studio time, too, working in mixed media.