Italian scientists found out the cause of death of Raffaello Santi

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Raffaello SANTI, Self-portrait. 1504-1506 Uffizi Gallery, Florence

According to experts from the University of Milano-Bicocca, one of the greatest artists of the Italian Renaissance died of pneumonia and the wrong treatment. In order to reach this conclusion, the scientists had to exclude such diagnoses as malaria, typhoid fever, and syphilis. Raphael died at the age of 37.

One of the side causes of death is the practice of bloodletting, which probably weakened the artist’s fever-stricken organism.

To obtain a complete picture of the illness in the last days of the artist’s life, experts compared the information contained in the “Life” by Gianni Vasari with other testimonies of contemporaries who lived in Rome at that time and revolved in the same circles with Raphael.

Michel Augusto Riva, a medical history researcher at the University of Milano-Bicocca, said that the course of the disease combined with other symptoms led them to think of some form of pneumonia. He comments that they cannot talk about this diagnosis with complete certainty, and they can only speculate whether it was a bacterial or viral disease, such as the current Covid-19, but the symptoms they know most correspond to this diagnosis.

Separately, the researchers note that, most likely, the bloodletting that was prescribed to the artist was the result of a medical error.

The study results were published in the professional medical journal Internal and Emergency Medicine.

Until now, the cause of the artist’s death was unknown. According to a contemporary of Raphael, painter, and writer Vasari, the death of the 37-year-old maestro was the result of debauchery. After a stormy night, Santi returned home and complained of discomfort. The doctor made bloodletting, which worsened the patient’s condition, and he died. The second version says about a cold that Raphael caught in the burial galleries, where he participated in the excavations.

Italian scientists found out the cause of death of Raffaello Santi
Sistine Madonna, Raphael

The artist died on April 6, 1520. The last refuge was a tomb in the Roman Pantheon. An epitaph is engraved on the plate that covered the remains: Here lies the great Raphael, during whose life nature was afraid to be defeated, and after his death, it was afraid to die.

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