Researchers from the University of Milan have solved the mystery of the mysterious death of artist Rafael Santi 500 years ago, according to the Italian news agency Ansa.
To find out the truth, scientists compared data from the “Biographies of the most famous painters, sculptors, and architects” by Giorgio Vasari with the available evidence of Raphael’s contemporaries, such as the envoy of the Duke of Ferrara Alfonso Paolucci, and also studied documents discovered in the 19th century by the art historian Giuseppe Campori).
They concluded that Raphael did not die of syphilis, as many previously assumed. The description of the course of the disease, combined with several symptoms, led to the idea of pneumonia, says medical historian Michele Augusto Riva:
We cannot state this with certainty, just as we cannot say whether the pneumonia was of the bacterial origin or viral, like the current COVID-19. But among all the reasons, it is she who most of all corresponds to the description of contemporaries: an acute, but not a rapid course, no loss of consciousness, no symptoms from the gastrointestinal tract, and constant fever.
The condition of Raphael was aggravated by a medical error, say Milan researchers. They tried to heal him with bloodletting, and in the case of lung diseases, this is contraindicated.
In some way, Raphael was killed by excessive love: according to Vasari, he hid from doctors that he often goes on love dates at night, and they, unable to determine the cause of the fever, insisted on bloodletting.