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Artificial intelligence clarifies mysteries surrounding Rafael's work the earth

The mystery surrounding a masterpiece by Italian Renaissance painter Rafael Sanzio (14831520) on display at the Prado Museum in Madrid may have been solved by an artificial intelligence program developed by the University of Bradford.

An algorithm developed by a group of researchers has determined that the figure of Saint Joseph on the left in the painting “Madonna of the Rose” (“The Virgin of the Rose,” in Portuguese) was not painted by the Italian artist, as some experts suspect, since mid of the 18th century.

The work, created around 151820 and depicting Mary, Joseph and Jesus with John the Baptist, was tested with an AI tool and concluded that most of the painting was by Raphael, but Joseph's face was by another person was painted. The lower part is “most likely” made by the artist.

According to mathematician and computer scientist Hassan Ugail of the University of Bradford in the United Kingdom, the researchers trained the algorithm on all the works that were “certainly” attributed to the Italian artist to solve the puzzle.

“Through an indepth analysis, we use images of authenticated paintings by Raphael to train the algorithm to recognize his style down to the smallest detail, from brushstrokes, color palette, shadows and every aspect of the work,” he explained.

Experts have long debated the work's attribution: some believe that it can actually be attributed, at least in part, to artists from Raphael's workshop such as Giulio Romano.

According to the scientist, “The computer looks much deeper than the human eye at the microscopic level and can recognize authentic works by the artist with an accuracy of 98%.”

“When we tested the painting as a whole, the results were inconclusive, so we analyzed the different parts separately: while the AI ​​confirms that the rest of the painting (the Virgin, Child and Saint John the Baptist) is attributed “Raphael, the face of São José is probably the result of another hand,” concluded Ugail.

For the authors of the study, published in the journal Heritage Science, AI could in the future help art historians, without replacing them, in the complicated process of authenticating a work, in which many aspects must be taken into account at the same time, such as provenance. the pigments used or the conditions under which it occurs. .