Visual Evidence for Raphael
At the time of the publication of the above scientific paper (February 2007), a high-resolution digital photograph of the tondo painting was incorporated on the de Brécy Trust's Tondo web site. This enabled detailed study to take place of the change of mind of the artist in the painting's design, overtly apparent in the lower left of the work. This is a preliminary outline underdrawing of the Madonna's scarf which terminates in the form of a scroll. It has ghosted through the paint layers as these have become transparent over time. It is possible that the artist originally intended a more pyramidal shape, a typical Raphael composition, to the design of the painting – but whatever the reason, the original design was abandoned during the painting and the artist opted to bring the scarf under the thigh of the Child, as replicated in the Sistine Madonna.
From the high-resolution photograph, it can be discerned how the fine, irregular craquelure markings overlap into the surrounding paint, indicating the preliminary design's existence within the original developing construction of the painting.
It is most unlikely that a copyist would attempt such a major deviation from the copied image. The conclusion is unavoidable. The Tondo is an original work, which thus pre-dates the Sistine Madonna – logically, the design for the focal point figures of the Raphael altarpiece.