A newly discovered painting of Judith and Holofernes, believed to be a long-lost masterpiece by the Italian master Caravaggio (1571-1610), was put on show this week in London. Praised for its inventive originality, dramatic intensity and virtuosity of execution, the visceral depiction of Judith beheading Holofernes was previously only known to scholars through a copy by Louis Finson (1580-1617).
Documents supporting its provenance suggest that it was painted in 1607 soon after Caravaggio fled Rome, accused of murder, and as such it reflects the darker, more sombre style that he adopted towards the end of his life. The artist is admired for the dramatic tension in his works, and the intensity of the colours in this painting and the clever use of chiaroscuro are unique to his style.
The canvas was found in an attic in France in 2014, in remarkably good condition considering its age. Many scholars agree that it is by his hand but if you are in London this week, why not visit Colnaghi and decide for yourself? It will be on show in the gallery on Bury Street in St. James’s until 9th March before it is offered at auction in Toulouse on 27th June 2019. It will be offered with no reserve; the auctioneers hope it might sell for more than €100million.