The art historian and critic Vittorio Sgarbi judges the news of the discovery of an alleged painting by Raphael as ”impossible”. “There is no possibility – Sgarbi cuts it short – that the painting advertised as Raphael, and announced in Pergola, an affectionate city, is by the master from Urbino. It is only a journalistic scoop, since it is based on the knowledge of a few since it is a work in private collection, with the legitimate aspiration of the owner to own a Raphael. The idea of a Magdalene with the appearance of Perugino’s wife is already bizarre – adds Sgarbi – as is suspicious the legitimate propensity of some scholars to pronounce only on great names: Raphael, Leonardo, Botticelli. Perugino is enough and more.”
”The work announced as Raphael – says Sgarbi – is in fact a version, perhaps autograph, of a prototype by Perugino preserved in Palazzo Pitti, of which another version is known in the Galleria Borghese. It is unlikely that in 1504, when, in contrast with his Master in the ‘Marriage of the Virgin’ of Caen, Raphael, with infinite grace, painted his admirable Marriage, now in Brera, which is much more free, new and loose than that of the master, he should apply himself to making a copy of Perugino, which at that moment he has already left behind. And it is equally impossible for Perugino to paint a copy of Raphael. At most, therefore, the new version, from a private collection, is a replica of Perugino. The autography of which must be verified, compared to the certain one of the works preserved in museums, and in the public domain”.
”The game of the private individual who owns a more authentic work than that of a museum – concludes Sgarbi – has already been attempted, for Raphael, with the youthful self-portrait. Then the fever passed. But it is clear that private property, and the live knowledge of only a few scholars, are prejudicial to the recognition of the autography”.