Painting found in French attic is S$184 million Italian master Caravaggio, say experts

A painting entitled "Judith Beheading Holofernes" is pictured during its presentation in Paris, France, on April 12, 2016, that might have been painted by Italian master Caravaggio (1571-1610) and was discovered in an attic in Toulouse.
A painting entitled "Judith Beheading Holofernes" is pictured during its presentation in Paris, France, on April 12, 2016, that might have been painted by Italian master Caravaggio (1571-1610) and was discovered in an attic in Toulouse.PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS (Reuters) - A painting found in the attic of a house in southwest France two years ago was attributed to the Italian master Caravaggio by private French experts who hailed its discovery on Tuesday (April 12) as a great event in the history of art.

The work, which depicts Biblical heroine Judith beheading an Assyrian general, was found by the owners of a house near Toulouse as they investigated a leak.

It could be worth 120 million euros (S$184 million), the Eric Turquin art expert agency said in a statement.

The painting is thought to have been painted in Rome in 1604 to 1605 by Michelangelo Merisi, known as Caravaggio, and is in exceptionally good conditions, Eric Turquin said, despite having been forgotten in the attic for probably more than 150 years.

"A painter is like us he has tics, and you have all the tics of Caravaggio in this. Not all of them, but many of them - enough to be sure that this is the hand, this is the writing of this great artist," Turquin told Reuters TV.

French authorities have banned it leaving France, describing it in a decree as a painting of "great artistic value, that could be identified as a lost painting by Caravaggio".