Painting Attributed to Raphael Goes on Public Display for the First Time

The painting known as the de Brécy Tondo, previously the subject of a 40-year debate, has now been attributed to the renowned Renaissance artist Raphael. The determination was made using artificial intelligence-based facial recognition software earlier this year. Now, for the first time, the painting is on public display at the Cartwright Hall Art Gallery in Bradford, England.

Originally thought to be a copy from the Victorian era due to its resemblance to Raphael’s Sistine Madonna altarpiece, the de Brécy Tondo had long puzzled art experts. However, Hassan Ugail, a professor at the University of Bradford and the director of the university’s center of visual computing, developed an AI model that thoroughly analyzed the painting. The model examined details such as brush strokes and pigments, leading Ugail to confidently claim that the tondo is indeed a work by Raphael.

Support for Ugail’s findings came from other academics, including Howell Edwards, a molecular spectroscopy expert at the University of Bradford. Edwards’s analysis of the pigments used in the de Brécy Tondo confirmed its placement in the Renaissance period. Combining this evidence with previous research and facial recognition technology, Ugail and his colleagues concluded that the de Brécy Tondo and the Sistine Madonna were unquestionably created by the same artist.

Ugail’s AI model, when used in conjunction with human expertise, has the potential to simplify the authentication process for artworks and increase transparency. With AI technology delving deeper into paintings and comparing various details, art historians and researchers can gain new insights and make more informed attributions. The public display of the de Brécy Tondo marks an exciting milestone in the art world, showcasing the possibilities that arise from the intersection of artificial intelligence and art history.