Renaissance master Raphael did a nose-job in self-portrait, face reconstruction suggests

Above, a self portrait by Renaissance master Raphael during the unveiling of an exhibition commemorating the 500th anniversary of his death, in this screengrab taken from a video in Rome on March 4, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 11 August 2020

Renaissance master Raphael did a nose-job in self-portrait, face reconstruction suggests

  • Professor Mattia Falconi: ‘He certainly made his nose look more refined’
  • Raphael died in Rome in 1520 aged 37, and was buried in Rome’s Pantheon

ROME: Raphael probably didn’t like his nose, and replaced it with an idealized version in his famous self-portrait.
That is the conclusion of Rome University scientists who produced a 3D computer reconstruction of the Renaissance master’s face from a plaster cast of his presumed skull made in 1833.
In that year, the remains believed to be those of the man hailed by his contemporaries as “the divine one” because he sought perfection through his work were last exhumed.
“He certainly made his nose look more refined,” said Professor Mattia Falconi, a molecular biologist at the university’s Tor Vergata campus. “His nose was, let’s say, slightly more prominent.”
Raphael died in Rome in 1520 aged 37, probably from pneumonia, and was buried in Rome’s Pantheon.
The self-portrait, which normally hangs in Florence’s Uffizi gallery but is currently in Rome for an exhibition marking the 500th anniversary of his death, was done about 15 years earlier, when he was clean-shaven.
It features the more aquiline nose that Raphael also included in other works in which he painted himself.
The reconstruction is of the way he may have looked closer to his death, when he wore a beard.
Falconi, along with forensic anthropologists and other experts, reconstructed the face with tissue layering techniques used by crime investigators.
The result was a face similar to that of the master on an engraving by Marcantonio Raimondi, one of his students.
“When we finished, I said to myself ‘I’ve seen that face before,’” Falconi, 57, said in a telephone interview.
Another similarity is with the subject of “Portrait of a Man,” painted between 1512 and 1515 by Sebastiano del Piombo, a Raphael contemporary and rival.
For centuries there has been speculation that the bones exhumed in 1833 and reburied in a re-styled crypt may not have been Raphael’s because some of his students were later buried near him.
But Falconi believes the research points to an around 85 percent chance that the skull is Raphael’s because of similarities with most of the artist’s face as depicted by him and his contemporaries.
Not everyone was pleased with Falconi’s research. An art critic for the Rome newspaper La Repubblica said it had produced a cheap “videogame version” of Raphael.
Falconi said he hoped the tomb can be opened again someday for direct tests on the skull. This could resolve several mysteries, including confirming what caused his death.


Donald Trump no fan of ‘Borat’ creator Sacha Baron Cohen

Updated 24 October 2020

Donald Trump no fan of ‘Borat’ creator Sacha Baron Cohen

  • Word of Baron Cohen’s latest outrageous ambushes on unsuspecting participants had spread like wildfire

ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE: Donald Trump said Friday he has not been a fan of Sacha Baron Cohen – even before a clip from the British comedian’s new Borat movie forced the US president’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani into an awkward explanation.
Asked about the clip – which shows Giuliani in a faked “interview” with an attractive and flirtatious young woman – while speaking to journalists aboard Air Force One, Trump said: “I don’t know what happened.”
“But years ago, you know, he tried to scam me. And I was the only one who said no way. That’s a phony guy. And I don’t find him funny.”
Trump said the incident happened about 15 years ago.
“To me, he was a creep,” Trump said.
The president did not provide further details about that encounter, but in a 2003 interview, Baron Cohen – playing the wannabe gangster Ali G – pitched a business venture to Trump: special gloves for eating ice cream.
Before the new Borat film’s release, word of Baron Cohen’s latest outrageous ambushes on unsuspecting participants had spread like wildfire.
On Wednesday, Giuliani issued an angry denial over the fake interview.
In the film, the encounter appears to leave the 76-year-old former New York mayor in a compromising situation, caught with his hands down his pants in the bedroom.
Giuliani said the scene was “a complete fabrication.”
“I was tucking in my shirt after taking off the recording equipment. At no time before, during, or after the interview was I ever inappropriate,” he tweeted.
“If Sacha Baron Cohen implies otherwise, he is a stone-cold liar.”
The comedian continued to poke fun at Giuliani.
In a video posted on social media, Borat himself leapt to his defense and accused the “fake news media” – a term often used by Trump and his supporters – of turning an “innocent” encounter into “something disgusting.”