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It was lying in obscurity because experts had previously identified it as a very ordinary copy of a lost Madonna portrait by a follower of Raphael, painted a century after the latter's death.
But when the regional arts superintendent, on a chance visit to the palace, caught a glimpse of the work and its exquisite frame, he had it examined by infra-red and ultra-violet analysis at the Art-Test laboratories in Florence. The picture was no copy - it was the lost original by Raphael himself!
According to experts in cinquecento art, the portrait is the first version of the celebrated Madonna of the Pearl, currently hanging in the Prado Gallery in Madrid.
The picture is now valued in excess of million.
In 1511 he started painting the Stanza della Segnatura, the first of his most famous 'Stanze' or 'Raphael Rooms' at the Palace of the Vatican.
Michelangelo was in fact to accuse Raphael of plagiarism and years later complained that 'everything he knew about art he got from me'.
His second period runs from 1504 to 1508 when he painted in Florence and produced works like The Entombment and La Belle Jardiniere.
And his third and final period were the following 12 years when he worked in Rome for 2 Popes and produced works such as St Cecilia, The Madonna di San Sisto, and The Transfiguration.
During his Florentine period, Raphael came to be influenced by the works of Leonardo da Vinci, who was 30 years his senior.
This influence can be seen in his figure drawing of a young woman that uses the 3-quarter length pyramidal composition used by Da Vinci in the just-completed Mona Lisa.
Along with the Venetian painter Titian, Raphael remains one of the most famous exponents of Renaissance art.