Related: The Top 10 Rediscovered Paintings

blog.php blog.php

However, the work has been mired by questions of authenticity. Art expert Éric Turquin has always been strongly convinced of its provenance and says that Caravaggio, the undisputed master of chiaroscuro, is indeed the artist, citing brush strokes, details, and of course, the use of light for support of his theory. Other experts, like the British critic Jonathan Jones, claim that the painting lacks the "psychological intensity" or characteristic realism of Caravaggio.

The French government banned all exports of the canvas until November 2018 to prevent it from being intercepted by an international collector. The ban now lifted, Artprice reveals that the work has been inspected by experts of the Louvre and more.

Related: Caravaggio: The Baroque Rebel

blog-1.php blog-1.php

Considered a national treasure in 2016, the work was not ultimately bought by the French state. The owners issued a new application for an export certificate, which was granted automatically, giving them the right to sell the canvas freely on the market.

The reasons for which the state did not acquire the work were not disclosed, but according to experts, the lack of certainty about its authenticity, as well as the reduced budget of national museums, were contributing factors. The market value of the painting was set at 120 million euros ($136 million USD), however the estimated amount for the auction has not been announced yet.

800px-Artemisia_Gentileschi_-_Giuditta_decapita_Oloferne_-_Google_Art_Project 800px-Artemisia_Gentileschi_-_Giuditta_decapita_Oloferne_-_Google_Art_Project

Judith decapitating Holofernes is a scene from the Apocrypha's Book of Judith, which was particularly represented in European painting during the 17th century (such as the dramatic version by Artemisia Gentileschi). Holofernes, an Assyrian general about to wage war against the city of Bethulia, is joined in his tent by a Bethulian woman, Judith, who seduces him to drink to the point of losing consciousness. Judith, helped by her maid, decapitates him and carries his head to her people.

1024px-Caravaggio_Judith_Beheading_Holofernes 1024px-Caravaggio_Judith_Beheading_Holofernes

The attribution of the painting to Caravaggio is a complex affair because the master's works have been widely copied. Another Caravaggio painting of Judith and Holofernes, dated 1598, was authenticated by historians and has been exhibited at the National Gallery of Ancient Art in Rome since the 1950s. Some believe the verified version presents little similarity to this rediscovered canvas. The Toulouse canvas, critics argue, more closely resembles a work by Louis Finson, a Flemish Baroque artist known for copying Caravaggio's paintings.

Although specific details have not been revealed, the auction will likely be held in Toulouse and is sure to be one of 2019's most highly anticipated sales.

See all items related to Caravaggio on Barnebys