The owners of a house in Toulouse, France got a major surprise when they went to fix a leak in their attic: a painting hidden for more than 150 years. The painting may be the work of the Italian artist Caravaggio, another version of the painting “Judith Beheading Holofernes” (another, seen above, belongs to the National Gallery of Ancient Art in Rome).
The painting was found two years ago and has been undergoing cleaning and analysis in Paris, the Associated Press reports. Some experts hold that the newly discovered piece is the work of Louis Finson, a 17th century Flemish painter who studied Caravaggio’s style and painted copies of his works. However, others are convinced that it’s an authentic Caravaggio, painted by the master sometime around 1604. According to Finson's will, he owned a copy of the painting by Caravaggio, but it disappeared 400 years ago.
The painting has been in the care of Paris-based art historian Eric Turquin since it was discovered. (He even slept with it in his bedroom for a while as a security measure.) “It's been done by someone with authority who doesn't second-guess their work," he said in a press conference with France 24.
Regardless of its true author, the painting has been declared a national treasure by the French cultural ministry, preventing it from leaving the country for 30 months.