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Original Painting of Fracastoro by Titian.
A notorious 16th-century Italian’s portrait was acquired by the National Gallery in London in 1924.
His name? Girolamo Fracastoro. His claim to fame?
A word for the sexually transmitted disease that was terrifying his countrymen—syphilis—was derived from a poem he wrote.
The portrait was damaged, darkened by varnish, and unsigned, so the museum staff relegated it to a basement gallery despite Fracastoro’s renown.
Eventually, cleaning and conservation revealed the hand of a master artist.
After close examination, curators decided last year that the artist must be the famed Venetian painter known as Titian.
The portrait now hangs in one of the museum’s main galleries.