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The Czechs scored in the world again! They invented a particle detector that is also used in space research, and with its help, they were able to determine the authenticity of the piece. Its author is the famous Renaissance painter Raphael Santi. Thanks to the work of Czech restaurateurs, you can now lay your eyes on the painting of incalculable value, which is stored in an impregnable safe.

The image of the Holy Family, i.e. Virgin Mary with baby Jesus reaching for his mother from the cradle, is dated 1517. Of course, it has a rich history. The commissioner of the painting was Pope Leo X; Raphael painted it in 1517 to be placed on the altar in the Holy House in Loreto. A year later, Raphael used the same motif to paint the Great Holy Family, a painting that became part of a papal gift to the French royal family and is now displayed in the Louvre Museum. The Madonna and Child from 1517 remained in the Vatican. After the occupation of Rome by the Bonapartists in 1798, the work was taken to Paris and later to England. Many imitations of the painting have been created over the centuries.

It belonged to Prague

In 1936 the painting was exhibited in Prague, which is why it's also known as the Prague Madonna in the professional world. It was purchased by Otomar Švehla, a relative of the Czechoslovak Prime Minister. It remained the property of the family until 1992, when it was sold frfrom Slovakia, Fajt explained the history of the work. In Slovakia, the painting was bought by a Czech businessman who took it abroad.

Prodej luxusního bytu Praha 1- 212m
Prodej luxusního bytu Praha 1- 212m, Praha 1

Experts from several countries have been examining the painting since the 1990s, and in 2002 the Czech restorer Raymund Ondráček began restoring the artwork. The work, which continued under the supervision of an international group of experts, including two other Czech restorers, was completed last year. At the time, InsightArt joined the research with the RToo robotic scanner, one of the world's first X-rays to specialize in the research of art.

První dochovaná fotografie díla z Pražského zpravodaje roku 1936.
První dochovaná fotografie díla z Pražského zpravodaje roku 1936. • Source: archiv Pražský zpravodaj

"We scanned the work using spectral radiography and the resulting scans revealed the detailed structure of the internal construction of Raphael's painting. The individual aspects based on the performed analyzes confirm that this work was painted by Raphael himself without the contribution of his workshop assistants and students."

said restorer Jiří Lauterkranc.

Fear of damage

Due to the fact that this is a unique, very rare artwork, Czech experts had a lot of respect for it.

"We were very happy to be able to continue participating in this project and it has, naturally, made us proud. Yes, we were a little nervous, but the support of our team of international experts working on those paintings by Raphael was reassuring,"

told us Lauterkranc.

Obraz v průběhu skenování.
Obraz v průběhu skenování. • Source: archiv InsightART, foto Jiří Lauterkranc

Public display is not in sight

It is not yet clear whether the work will ever be exhibited in the Czech Republic again. For the time being, it remains in Brussels, the owners loan it for research purposes and, according to the historian and former general director of the National Gallery, Jiří Fajt, they are accomodating to the idea of possible public display. The painting was to be transported to the Louvre this year for comparison with Raphael's work owned by the museum. However, the pandemic prevented that from happening.

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About the author

I studied humanitarien studies. I am interested in psychology, like to read the red library as an escape from the reality of every day life. My biggest passion is travel and good wine.
Karolína Lišková
U Pergamenky 1145/12
170 00, Praha 7
Česká republika
tomas.cironis@insightart.eu
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