Two years ago, the owners of an old house near Toulouse found a dusty painting behind a locked door in their attic. After a cleaning, the work began to resemble a Caravaggio. The rediscovery of a possible lost work by the Old Master, thought to be a second version of his famous Judith Beheading Holofernes (1598) at Rome's Palazzo Barberini, was kept hidden until last month. That's when the French Ministry of Culture put on a 30-month export ban on the artwork, revealing the possible discovery to the world.
“This recently rediscovered work of great artistic value, which could be identified as a lost composition of Caravaggio, known so far by indirect evidence, merits being retained in the territory as a very important milestone in the work of Caravaggio, while its attribution is researched," the ministry wrote in a statement.
Expert Eric Turquin put the value of the painting at about €120 million ($137 million), reported the AFP. He characterized "the light, the energy typical of Caravaggio, without mistakes, done with a sure hand and a pictorial style that makes it authentic."
The Guardian's art critic Jonathan Jones, disagrees, writing of the new discovery: "It certainly has the shine and colour of a Caravaggio, the cinematic light effects he is so famous for. But it has none of his psychological intensity."