Raphael's painting of The Deposition (1507), in the Galleria Borghese, was commissioned by Atalanta Baglioni, in memory of her son Grifonetto. The painting was placed in the family chapel in the church of San Francesco al Prato, in Perugia, where it remained for more than a century until, one night in 1608, it was stolen.
The thieves acted with the complicity, not only of the priest but also that of Pope Paul V (r. 1605-21), who gave the painting to his nephew Cardinal Scipione Borghese.
The Deposition, also known as The Entombment, duly entered the cardinal's collection where, apart from a brief sojourn in Paris, it has remained.
In order to pacify the good people of Perugia, who were understandably vexed at the theft of the painting, the Pope ordered a copy to be made and placed in the chapel.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private walking tours of Rome.
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