Raphael: Rome show mired in controversy

Uffizi panel quits over loan of Raphael masterpiece for Rome show.

As the world prepares to mark the 500th anniversary of the death of Raphael with an 'unprecedented' exhibition in Rome, a controversy has broken out in Florence over one of the masterpieces being loaned to the capital.

The scientific committee at the Uffizi resigned en masse on 25 February, in protest over the gallery's loan of a Raphael painting for the blockbuster exhibition at the Scuderie del Quirinale, insisting that the work should never leave its home in Florence.

The four-person panel said that Raphael's portrait of Pope Leo X - painted around 1517 - was included in its list of paintings that should always remain in the Uffizi.

They claim that in December the Uffizi director Eike Schmidt approved their decision to prohibit the work from leaving Florence, and that they learnt of its inclusion in the Rome show through the media.

However Schmidt told Italian news agency ANSA that he stood by his decision to loan the work which he described as "indispensable" to the Rome show.

Schmidt told ANSA that the dramatic portrait would be one of the centrepieces of the exhibition which is titled Raphael and will take place from 5 March until 2 June.

The Uffizi has played a central role in the organisation of the exhibition which has already registered more than 70,000 pre-sale ticket reservations ahead of its opening next month.

For full details of Raphael show see our guide.

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Raphael: Rome show mired in controversy

Via Ventiquattro Maggio, 16, 00186 Roma RM, Italy