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Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio’s face has been a mystery—until now

The influential architect ‘shied away from official portraiture’

A neo-classical home with covered front porch and dome is clad in brick and topped in white.
Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s plantation home, was directly inspired by Palladio’s Villa La Rotonda.

An intriguing mystery has emerged out of Rome—except it’s arguably more delightful than it is inscrutable. That’s because the story revolves around an influential Renaissance architect and his reluctance to have his official portrait taken (in this case, that would be painted).

Andrea Palladio, who was born in 1508 and died in 1580, was an Italian architect active in 16th-century Venice who is credited with reinterpreting and reintroducing Classical styles to the modern world. His influence even found its way to the U.S., where the White House and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello plantation home were directly inspired from Palladio’s work.

And while his 1570 treatise, The Four Books of Architecture, is considered one of the most important works on the subject, what he looked like—more specifically, his face—remained a mystery. Until now, The New York Time reports.

After a two-year-long international quest to find the most accurate depiction of his visage—an effort that required scouring galleries and archives, then editing the selections down, and finally using X-rays, infrared imaging, and plain old forensic techniques to analyze the most promising selections—a team of Italian architects, art historians, and police officers believe that they have found their guy.

A portrait in a private collection in Moscow and another acquired at an antiques shop in New Jersey are thought to be the most legitimate portraits of Palladio—not the etching that appeared in Britain in 1716, or an Italian portrait that surfaced in 1733.

Those intrigued by this case can learn all about it at an exhibition on view now at the Palladio Museum in Vicenza. Or simple head to the Times for the full story and a few choice quotations.

Via: The New York Times