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For centuries, Renaissance artist Pintoricchio was practically accused of blasphemy by those who contended that he used Pope Alexander VI's young lover as the model for the Madonna in a wall painting that decorated the pontiff's private apartment. That's nothing more than malicious speculation that became a hard-to-die myth, concludes "Pintoricchio pittore dei Borgia: Il mistero svelato di Giulia Farnese," (Pintoricchio, painter of the Borgias: The mystery of Giulia Farnese revealed) a summer exhibition of Pintoricchio's works at Rome's Capitoline Museums.The Capitoline show's organizers describe her as "the adolescent lover and not very hidden concubine" of Alexander VI – who was born as Rodrigo de Borgia.The painting provoked so much scandal that, more than five decades after he succeeded the previous Alexander, Pope Alexander VII ordered the fresco removed. Buranelli said dismantling the long-held legend about the portrait of the Madonna fits into recent efforts to evaluate the Borgia pope's accomplishments apart from his legacy as a libertine – before becoming pontiff, he is believed to have fathered seven children by various mistresses.
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