A Chicago resident was on a mission to prove that the $30,000 painting he bought in an antique shop was made by the famous Raphael, and 30 years later, artificial intelligence finds a 97 percent match.
Anthony Ayers bought the painting, known as the Flaget Madonna, in 1995 and four years ago commissioned an AI company to analyze the paint and wood panels.
Art Recognition used its machine learning software to examine the brush strokes and found with high probability that the famous Italian painted the faces of Mary and baby Jesus.
The company trained its software with millions of artworks to verify the authenticity of art, and less than 10 percent of its customers have received more than 95 percent.
While Ayers and friends spent more than $500,000 hiring specialists to analyze the paint and wood panels, Raphael’s last masterpiece sold for $48 million in 2009 – a sketch titled “Head of a Muse” .
However, Ayers died in 2022 at the age of 64, but his wife, Dawn Turco, continues her late husband’s quest.
This painting was bought in an antique shop in 1995 for $30,000 by a man who was sure it was a real Raphael masterpiece
Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, better known as Raphael, was an Italian painter and architect of the High Renaissance.
He was born in Urbino, Italy in 1483 and learned to paint from his father.
Raphael died in Rome in 1520, leaving fewer than 200 works – all of which would now be worth a fortune.
The Flaget Madonna depicts Mary holding a baby Jesus while she is with their cousins Elizabeth and a young John the Baptist.
Ayers had a gut feeling that the painting he bought in a quaint shop in London was real.
Turco, who was with Ayers when he discovered it, told the Wall Street Journal: “Tony just knew it was something. He couldn’t get it out of his head.’
Turco has worked with the 40 individuals who have invested in Ayres’ mission.
The Art Recognition team first trained their AI to understand the difference between real Raphael works and fakes.
Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, better known as Raphael, was an Italian painter and architect of the High Renaissance. Pictured is a self-portrait
AI analyzed brushstrokes on the painting and determined that the faces of Mary and Jesus had a 97 percent chance of being painted by the famous Italian artist
Heat mapping shows that the faces of Mary and Jesus are 96.57 percent and 96.24 percent attributed to Raphael, while the rest of the painting was no match
The software then went to work, analyzing 16 parts of the Flaget Madonna and the painting as a whole.
Heat mapping shows that the faces of Mary and Jesus are 96.57 percent and 96.24 percent attributed to Raphael, while the rest of the painting was no match.
And it is believed that Raphael’s help completed the rest of the painting.
The painting is now kept in a vault on the outskirts of Chicago after centuries of traveling around the world.
Dr. Carina Popovici, founder and CEO of Art Recognition, shared ArtDaily: ‘Through brushstroke artificial intelligence we offer clients objectivity and accessibility, which has been lacking for years in the field of art evaluation.
“Art history, provenance, chemical analysis and other methods are all crucial to the full understanding of an artwork, but attribution decisions should not be left solely to the eye of the subjective human expert.”
Dr. Larry Silver, Farquhar Professor Emeritus of Art History at the University of Pennsylvania, examined the painting after the AI’s analysis.
He determined it came from Raphael’s studio, and important parts of the work were attributed to the artist himself.
And an examination of the art analysis and pigment and provenance research reinforced Silver’s views.
“The technical and art-historical analyzes concur to suggest that the core of this painting was probably designed by Raphael, with the obvious participation in the work by a lesser, secondary hand,” Silver told ArtDaily.