May 10 (UPI) — A Caravaggio painting discovered after going largely unseen for more than 400 years went on display Thursday in New York ahead of its planned auction in June.
The artwork, Judith and Holofernes, depicts a biblical scene by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, an Italian Baroque master known for his pioneering use of light and darkness. Painted around 1607, the painting was found in 2014 in the attic of a house near Toulouse, France, by a family investigating a leaky roof.
Experts believed it to be untouched since a family member brought it home more than 150 years ago as a souvenir of Napoleon’s military campaigns.
Caravaggio twice painted the subject matter of Judith beheading Holofernes, the first about five years before the once-missing painting. Art historians were aware of the later painting because Franco-Flemish painter Louis Finson completed a faithful copy of it.
They compared the two paintings and consulted Caravaggio experts to determine the newly discovered painting was authentic.
“Not only is this picture an original by Caravaggio, it is a great original by Caravaggio,” Old Master expert and consultant Eric Turquin said.
“This is a much more powerful picture, much more tragic, much more contrasted. The reds are more red, the blacks are more black.”
After a light cleaning of the painting, it was put on display across the globe, including at Adam Williams Fine Art in New York through May 17. Maison de Ventes Marc Labarbe in Toulouse, will auction off the painting on June 27. The auction house expects it to sell for between $112 million and $168 million.