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RAPHAEL RECREATED ‘EGYPTIAN BLUE’ FOR ‘GALATEA’ MASTERPIECE

Renaissance genius Raphael recreated the ancient “Egyptian blue” to achieve the intense blue of the sky and sea in his famed Triumph of Galatea in Rome's Villa Farnesina, according to a new study seen by the Italian news agency ANSA.

The hue, the oldest blue in history, had been lost after the fall of the Roman Empire and had been replaced by lapis lazuli. Raphael carried out a unique experiment in his workshop and used the color in the masterpiece painted onto the walls of the then luxury Palazzo Chigi, the study said.


The study on the fresco's materials was led by Lincei Academy member Prof. Antonio Sgamellotti. It was conducted together with ENEA, IRET-CNR, the Spoleto Cultural Heritage Diagnostic Lab, and XGLab-Bruker. It is the first time, Sgamellotti underscored, "that we find this pigment in a work by Raphael, whose use for the Galatea, not coincidentally a mythological subject, may have been born in the Urbino artist's workshop and engendered by his great interest in the ancient world".


The study, carried out to mark the 500th anniversary of the painter's death, will be presented at the show "Raphael in the Villa Farnesina, Galatea and Psyche", curated by Sgamellotti and by Virginia Lapenta, which will be held from October 6 to January 6, 2021 in the residence designed by Baldassarre Peruzzi and decorated by Raphael together with all the other great names in painting of his time. The Triumph of Galatea is a fresco completed by Raphael in around 1514. In Greek mythology, the beautiful Nereid Galatea had fallen in love with the peasant shepherd Acis. Her consort, one-eyed giant Polyphemus, after chancing upon the two lovers together, lobbed an enormous pillar and killed Acis - Sebastiano del Piombo produced a fresco of Polyphemus next to Raphael's work.



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