In light of the positive reception, Bradford Council is pleased to announce the extension of the exhibition featuring a painting believed to be the work of the renowned artist Raphael.

The de Brecy Tondo was unveiled at Cartwright Hall in Bradford in July and was initially scheduled to conclude its display at the Bradford Council Museum in September. However, this period has now been prolonged until the 3rd of January, 2024. This marks the painting’s inaugural public exhibition worldwide.

The painting, whose attribution to Raphael has been a subject of research and discussion for over four decades due to its striking resemblance to Raphael’s Sistine Madonna, recently underwent analysis employing artificial intelligence-driven computer-based facial recognition. This examination conclusively revealed that the faces depicted in both paintings are indeed identical, further supporting the assertion of their shared authorship.

Subsequent to his initial assessment, Professor Hassan Ugail, Director of the Centre of Visual Computing at the University of Bradford, has developed a novel AI model tailored for the identification of works by Old Masters. This model scrutinizes the painting in its entirety, not solely focusing on the facial features.

Professor Ugail said: “My AI models look far deeper into a picture than the human eye, comparing details such as the brush strokes and pigments.

“Testing the Tondo using this new AI model has shown startling results, confirming it is most likely by Raphael.

“Together with my previous work using facial recognition and combined with previous research by my fellow academics, we have concluded the Tondo and the Sistine Madonna are undoubtedly by the same artist.

“Currently, the authenticity of a painting is confirmed by eye, by experts. I believe this technology, using science to analyse art, could be used alongside human experts, leading to easier authentication and greater transparency.”

Professor Ugail’s AI-based evaluation further bolsters previous findings by Professor Howell Edwards, Emeritus Professor of Molecular Spectroscopy at the University of Bradford, who determined the pigments in the Tondo firmly placed it in the Renaissance era. This was complemented by the insights of Professor Christopher Brooke from the University of Nottingham, a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London and an authority on ecclesiastical art and architecture.

Timothy Benoy, Honorary Secretary of the de Brécy Trust, said: “It is only fitting that the Tondo’s first public display is in Bradford, where cutting-edge technologies at the University have been used to determine its attribution.

“We believe the work on the Tondo very forcibly illustrates the increasing value of scientific evidence in the attribution of a painting.”

Councillor Sarah Ferriby, Bradford Council’s Executive Member for Healthy People and Places, said: “We are delighted with the feedback that we’ve received from members of the public to this painting, so it’s great that we have been able to extend its run to allow even more people to view it.”

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