Death from the vices of love or victims of rivalry with a good background? The disappearance of Raffaello Sanzio, the divine painter, on April 6, 1520 at the age of thirty-seven, is still shrouded in mystery. A cold caseafter all worth a book. Not surprisingly, famous researchers in various disciplines have compared their reflections, between art historians, archivists, restaurateurs, anthropologists, researchers, technology experts. The result is an ambitious (and brave) volume that tries to score on a possible research track. And some revelations. It is curated by Pio Baldi and Alice Militello, entitled “Enigma Raphael. Luck, rivalry, contrasts: the mystery of Sanzio’s death”(Skira Art Library Edition). We talked about it with Pio Baldi.
Raffaello Sanzio’s face, the 3D study at the University of Tor Vergata, has been revealed
Enigma Raffaello, why did Raphael’s end become “a mystery?
With the 500th anniversary of the great painter’s death, it is natural that studies, research and investigations concerning his life, his art and his death have deepened. About the causes of death, there was only Vasari’s version of “lovable fever” due to an abundance of female acquaintances. But it must be said that Vasari speaks decades away from the event and does not provide any evidence to confirm his hypothesis. Hence the question mark ». What is the most surprising and strange aspect of this story? “It is surprising that 18 researchers belonging to such different disciplines have found themselves in agreement on a hitherto neglected and unknown aspect of the great artist’s life.”
While working on this book, did you find any documents, tracks, unpublished or little known data?
“We are accustomed to reading Raphael’s biography and work exclusively through historiographical sources and iconographic testimonies, often filtered by the dominant version of Vasari. Taking up the subject and treating resources from a transdisciplinary perspective already represents in itself a path that the literature on the artist has not walked. If I go into the details of the research contained in the book, at the historical and artistic level, I could mention the study by Professor Marco Bussagli which describes the development of the master’s physiognomy, based on the known and lesser known works, by sifting through all hypotheses to be rejected or to be evaluated to define appearance. The studies of the artist’s appearance find reference, in medical-scientific terms, in the work carried out by Dr. Chantal Milani, who analyzes and reconstructs Sanzio’s face, thanks to the sophisticated technologies in forensic anthropology ».
Raphael and the Pantheon, the artist’s tomb known to all. But are there other lesser known parts of this monument that can be linked to Raphael?
“There are no obvious traces of Raphael’s will that, according to today’s most accredited hypotheses, were written but not signed, due to the precipitation of events. However, according to sources, one of the artist’s last wishes was to be buried in Santa Maria della Rotonda, under Madonna del Sasso’s chapel, built by himself. The teacher Flavia CantatoreAs part of his studio, he punctually reproduces the reasons for choosing a place and connects them with what we know about the building and the newspaper kiosk, before and after his death. Raphael, in his many roles and above all others, recognizes the Pantheon as an absolute masterpiece of architecture, which increases the perception of the monument ».
How did you work with this literary company, what were the sources, the research areas, the findings investigated?
«As I have already mentioned before, the working method has been interdisciplinary, this has made it possible for researchers to compare and hybridize their sources, with respect for the different skills. The book therefore has a double language and content register: historical-artistic, on the one hand; scientific doctor, on the other hand. In addition to the well-known artistic literature about Raphael, a reference point was the archives of the Academy of Virtuosi at the Pantheon, both because in 1833 Virtuosi was the architects behind the opening – documented action for action – of the alleged tomb of the artist. , which the doctor reconstructs Alice Militello; both because in the gallery there is a casting of the skull attributable to the artist, made as part of that reconnaissance campaign; was used by Milani for his reconstruction of Raphael’s physiognomy. Still on the medical-scientific front, I would like to quote the professor’s essay Vittorio Fineschiwritten together with Valentina Gazzaniga, Paola Frati e Marco Cilonewhich brings together the long tradition of historical medical works that attempted to attribute a name to the pathology that determined the artist’s death, and immediately returns the critique of each of the diagnostic formulas discovered: syphilis, malaria, poisoning, or a form of pneumonia exacerbated by a therapeutic intervention of blood supply ».
Will Raphael’s tomb be reopened?
«This is due to the decisions that will be made by the competent institutions: first the Ministry of Culture in its various articulations, then the Rectorate of the Pantheon and finally the municipality».
In summary, died of love or other background?
«It is the question of the riddle that will be answered if the investigations continue».