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Rome Reports

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500 year old mystery solved in Rome's Capitoline Museums

This is Pope Alexander VI, one of the most controversial popes in papal history for his so to speak “unvirtuous” actions. Yet despite his faults, he was also responsible for some of the Vatican's most important art commissions. 

It is this artist, Pinturicchio, who is at the center of a 500 year old dispute, which claims that this Madonna's face is that of Alexander VI's mistress, Giulia Farnese. This summer, Rome's Capitoline Museums presents an exhibition to find out. 

Exhibition Supervisor

“The objective of the show is very clear: to present for the first time- after 500 years of its execution- the face of the Madonna that Pinturicchio paints, and that Giorgio Vasari interprets as the painting of Giulia Farnese.”

Vasari, a fellow painter during the Renaissance, expressed his hypothesis regarding this portrait to the papal courts without any evidence. 

Exhibition Supervisor

“After five centuries, we dismantle this myth by reconstructing Giulia Farnese's appearance, who didn't leave many portraits. Fortunately, we present this fragment of a feminine face for the first time, that when compared to the other Madonna's of Pinturicchio, definitively demonstrates a Mary in which the pope is on his knees in the highest adoration”.

With this new reconstruction, the Capitoline Museum could finally come to its own “last judgment.”  

Exhibition Superviso
“We say that the news of Vasari was a false notice, like 'fake news' today, that identified this falsity that becomes published on the basis only of a popular rumor.”

Though there is a gap of five hundred years, it seems that the controversy of Pinturicchio and “fake news” is ever more relevant today.