Yesterday, I asked readers to guess what was suspiciously off on the Sistine Madonna for this month's giveaway. Some of you are obviously on to my tricks. "Gabal" was right. The winged babies were a clever decoy to distract you from Sixtus IV. (Shown here).
But "Me" had the answer that I was thinking of (although I have to say Gabal that the Virgin's toe does look oddly forshortened to me too). "Me" - please email me and send me your address and I will get out your prize. (The contact link is under the scary lady to the left)
Answer: Pope Sixtus IV has an extra finger.
Art historians have long debated the meaning of the six fingers. It is doubtful that Raphael did it by accident or that Sixtus actually had six fingers. One theory is that he was making a play on the number "six" in his name and the Pope having a "sixth" sense. This painting is not the only one where that sly Raphael snuck in some extra digits.
In Raphael's Marriage of the Virgin, he gave Joseph an extra toe. Joseph is the figure on the right placing the ring on her finger and the extra toe is on the foot he is placing forward.
Raphael also gave Pope Julius II an extra finger in The Disputation on the Holy Sacrament. Detail of this painting below.
Thanks to everyone who played along. From now on you will be looking for that sixth digit in Raphael's paintings. Let me know if you know of any other incidents of art deformities. I like to use these examples in my school visits. Kids love to find hidden stuff in paintings!