Our Sharp arts & culture team recently had the chance to tell a once-in-a-lifetime story: the discovery of a lost Renaissance painting!

Known as the “Flaget Madonna,” this beautiful work was found by chance in an antiques shop in England 25 years ago. Its discovery initiated more than two decades of scientific, art historical, and provenance research, with all data pointing towards the painting being the work of the master Italian painter Raphael. However, the small group of elite experts considered to be connoisseurs of the artist ignored this attribution. Finally, the owners made a major breakthrough in partnering with Art Recognition, whose proprietary AI software determined with more than 95% certainty that two of the primary faces are painted by Raphael. 

A story as special as this required a unique approach. Our PR campaign started with a period of due diligence — to uncover the facts of the story, to identify the best spokespeople to tell the scientific and art historical nuances in an expert but accessible fashion, and to do extensive media research on the viability of the science, the work’s provenance, and the discovery itself. 

To introduce the discovery with all the depth and detail required, we pursued an exclusive feature in a top-tier outlet. Kelly Crow, Art Market Staff Reporter for the Wall Street Journal, developed a cover story for the Review section and secured the top image highlight on the front page of the newspaper. Read on to follow the ins and outs of this research quest - and the exciting conclusion here

The Wall Street Journal feature story kickstarted a media frenzy, generating more than 100 million impressions. Additional coverage highlights included: