RENAISSANCE painter Raphael has emerged as the genius behind a painting from a private collection in Cordoba.

The discovery comes after years of research by university professor Luis Rodrigo Rodriguez-Simon.

The work, previously of unknown authorship, depicts a scene identical to Raphael’s ‘Madonna of Foligno’ in the Vatican gallery.

It must have been the preliminary work and has hence been titled ‘Small Madonna of Foligno’.

Rodríguez-Simón, a Fine Arts lecturer at the University of Granada, carried out a detailed study on the work lasting several years using x-rays, infrared photography and ultraviolet fluorescent lighting.

Raphael’s initials ‘RU’ appear on the cuff of the Virgin Mary’s tunic.