Sylvester Stallone doppelganger discovered in 16th century Vatican masterpiece

London: A visitor to Vatican City had a hilarious experience when he found the subject of a Raphael masterpiece had an uncanny resemblance to Hollywood hardman Sylvester Stallone. The Cardinal and Theological Virtues is a 1511 fresco adorning one of the Raphael Rooms at the Vatican.

It depicts Pope Gregory IX approving the Vatical Decretals - with a spitting image of Stallone looking on. Harvard student Anthony Zonfrell, 20, who was on holiday in Italy with his family, spotted the hilarious doppelganger.

“My cousin had told us about how she had seen it when she went, so we were on the lookout. As soon as we saw the painting, we knew it was him. My whole family thought it was hilarious. It could actually be a portrait of Stallone,” a leading daily has quoted him as saying.

Raphael was commissioned to decorate four reception rooms in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican City. They later became known as the ‘Stanze di Raffaello’, which means Raphael Rooms.

The Cardinal and Theological Virtues, which was painted in 1511 and represents a combination of law and religion, makes up one wall in the ‘Stanza della Segnatura’ room. It is thought Raphael, who lived from 1483 until 1520, only sketched the outline of the fresco, with team member Lorenzo Lotto carrying out the ‘Stallone’ paintwork.

When Anthony, who is from Massachusetts, returned from his holiday he uploaded the photograph to community website Reddit. Incredibly, the image was viewed more than 700,000 times - becoming the website’s most popular page.

“I posted it at night, and when I woke up it was on the front page. I was shocked at the response it got, it really blew up quite fast. All of the comments were hilarious,” Anthony added.