Long-lost Caravaggio masterpiece – London pre-auction viewing at the Colnaghi Gallery
Caravaggio, Judith Beheading Holofernes (c. 1607). Courtesy of Cabinet Turquin
“There are only 65 of his paintings in the world, and I found the 66th painting in an attic”
(Labarbe, Toulouse auctioneer)
This second version of Caravaggio (Michele Angelo Merigi da Caravaggio, 1571 – 1610)’s Judith Beheading Holofernes was discovered in a French attic in a Toulouse farmhouse in 2014 where it had been stored dusty, unnoticed, and ignored despite a previous burglary, for over 100 years. Now fully restored, it will be auctioned in Toulouse in June 2019 with a guide price of over £100,000,000 and, ahead of the sale, is on view at London’s Colnaghi gallery from 1 March for just over a week before exhibition in New York and Paris.
Caravaggio died unexpectedly at the age of 38 when travelling from Naples to Rome. Why did he die so young? Some say he died of a fever, others that he was murdered. But a recent DNA study of what are believed to be his remains suggests that he died of lead poisoning, from the extensive use of lead salt paints during his lifetime.
As her hometown, Bethulia, is under siege, Judith seduces the Assyrian general and slays him to save her people (Book of Judith, Old Testament)
Caravaggio painted the scene twice. The first canvas, created in Rome, now belongs to the National Gallery of Ancient Art, Palazzo Barberini, Rome
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