'Fake' Rafael Painting Could be Worth Millions

A small 12 x 16 oil portrait long thought to be a copy in the style of the Renaissance master Rafael was recently discovered in a palazzo storeroom in Sassuolo, northern Italy. Art expert Mario Scalini found it as he sorted through more than 25,000 works stashed in the palazzo's vaults. He thought the painting might be worth more than previously thought, mainly due to the quality of the frame.

Using infra-red and ultraviolet ray "multilayer" technology, they were able to see through accumulated layers of paint.

The institute's Lisa Venerosi Pesciolini, one of Italy's most respected art restorers, said: "Underneath the layers, it was possible to see the original painting. This is an extremely important find."

Mr Scalini, acting supervisor of fine arts for the provinces of Modena and Reggio Emilia in northern Italy, said: "The results of the investigation allow us to assert with reasonable certainty that the work was painted by Raphael." It is thought the portrait was started by Raphael, but finished by one of his most prominent pupils, Giulio Romano, after Raphael's death in 1520.

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