“We are sure that the bloodletting brought Rafael closer to death,” said Michel Augusto Riva, one of the authors of the study, in an interview with the Guardian. – Doctors of that period often practiced bloodletting to treat various diseases, but it is not usually used for lung diseases. In Raphael’s case, he did not explain the origin of the disease or his symptoms, so the doctor used the bloodletting incorrectly.
Riva and his team rely on the description of Rafael’s death by Italian art historian Giorgio Vasari. He testifies that the Pope sent the best Roman doctors to look after the sick artist. But, trying to hide his romantic exploits, Raphael did not tell them about his “frequent night walks in the frost” to mistresses, writes Vasari.
“Raphael’s death was caused by a medical mistake and his own unwillingness to tell the true cause of the disease,” Riva concluded in an interview with AFP. (Good lesson: tell your doctor the truth!).
The real cause of Raphael’s death was lung disease. Riva called it “very similar to the coronavirus we’re seeing now”. Among other things, it caused a constant fever.
At the time of his death, Rafael Santi was one of Europe’s most famous artists. Today he is considered one of the three most influential artists of the era, along with Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci.
The Scuderie del Quirinale Gallery in Rome is now hosting a comprehensive and unique retrospective of the artist’s work to mark the 500th anniversary of his death.