They used artificial intelligence to solve the mystery of the mystery painting

Academics from the UK-based University of Nottingham and Bradford compared the two faces in the painting Brecy Tondo with the faces in Rafael’s Sistine Madonna with artificial intelligence face recognition technology.

Announcing the results of the examination in a press release, the academics emphasized that the faces in the two works are the same and said, “This means that it is highly likely that the two paintings were made by the same artist.”

“The features of the painting are thought to be typical of Renaissance work and therefore very unlikely to be a later copy,” said the academics, who also performed pigment analysis on Brecy Tondo.


The press release states that the artificial intelligence facial recognition technology was developed by Professor Hassan Ugail from the University of Bradford, “(Face recognition technology) uses what is called a deep neural network (DNN) to pass data through multiple filters. “DNNs can identify patterns in images and video with much higher accuracy than the human eye.”

While the similarity of the faces of the ‘Madonnas’ in the two paintings was 97 percent, the comparison of the faces of the babies gave 86 percent results. Academics stressed that similarities over 75 percent were ‘considered the same’.


Raffaello Sanzio (1483-1520) Raphael for short, is known as the master painter and architect of the Renaissance. Rafael, who is famous for his Madonna depictions, has many works in the Vatican. Referred to as the ‘Grand Masters’ of the era with Rafael, Michelangelo and Loenardo da Vinci