The Epileptic Boy from the Vatican Transfiguration (Album I)

WAG 1995.111


This is a copy of a section of the 'The Transfiguration' by Raphael (1483 - 1520), painted between 1516 and 1520, and left unfinished at the artist's death. It was commissioned by Cardinal Giulio de' Medici (1478 - 1534) as an altarpiece for Narbonne Cathedral in France and is now in the Vatican Museums in the Vatican City, Rome. On the right hand side of Raphael's painting is the figure of a young boy, held by his father. This illustrates a story from the Gospels in which Christ cures a boy apparently possessed by a demon. More modern commentary has identified the boy as having epilepsy, with the description of the boy's 'possession' corresponding exactly with the experience of an epileptic fit. In the past, epilepsy was poorly understood and associated with lunacy and demonic possession.