(Photo: Studio Sebert)
In the deuterocanonical Book of Judith, the pious Judith cuts of the head of the Assyrian general Holofernes. In the Sixteenth Century, the Italian painter Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio painted the scene at least twice. One of those paintings now hangs in Rome. The other vanished from Naples centuries ago.
At some point, a French Army officer serving under Napoleon took the painting as loot back to his home in Toulouse, France. Two years ago, the current owners of the house found the painting in their attic.
As a long-lost treasure of art history, it's an incredible find. It's also worth a lot of money. Art dealers estimate that it could sell for $135 million USD. That's because it's indisputable authentic and unique. The Telegraph reports:
“This particular lighting, this energy typical of Caravaggio without corrections, with a sure hand and the pictorial material make this painting an original,” said art expert and gallery owner Eric Turquin.
Experts concur there is no way it could be a copy given the bold, spontaneous brushstrokes known as “alla brava” in Italian – Caravaggio never sketched first - and the fact that the painter made some clear corrections to hands, something that a careful copier would not do. […]
The Turquin gallery said the work was a “darker, crueller and more naturalistic rendering of the scene” than the other known version hanging in Rome.
Judith, with her “terrible determined stare looks directly at the viewer” while her maid, Abra, appears to encourage her to commit the act.
Unlike in the Rome version, the soldier comes across as a “vulnerable and common man” rather than a glorious general, with “the sunburnt hands of a soldier, and face that grimaces in pain, with eyes that are already dead”.
-via Marilyn Bellamy