A Raphael…in Kentucky?

An art mystery originating in the Bluegrass

A Raphael… from Kentucky? Did you catch a bit of Kentucky in the Wall Street Journal recently?

The “Flaget Madonna,” discovered almost three decades ago in an antique shop might be a work by Raphael.

First brought to Kentucky by the first “Bishop of the West,” Benedict Flaget, the wood-panel painting was sold by the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth of Bardstown sometime before its rediscovery. Flaget, a priest fleeing France, arrived in 1792. He became a pioneer bishop, riding in flatboats and on treacherous horseback journeys through the Kentucky wilderness serving the burgeoning faithful.

As Flaget worked to establish churches in the west (including the Basilica of Saint Joseph in Bardstown), he requested a shipment of art from Europe sometime before 1830.

Among the works? The Renaissance depiction of the Madonna & Child here, believed by many to be a Raphael work. Read more here.

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