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.
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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.
His last work was a painting called The Transfiguration (completed by his pupil Giulio Romano after his death and now housed in the Pinacoteca Vaticana, Vatican Museum), which showed that his work was moving towards a more Mannerist style, exemplified by drama and grandeur.
Raphael died in 1520 when he was only 37 years old.
Along with the Venetian painter Titian, Raphael remains one of the most famous exponents of Renaissance art.