PARIS, April 12 (UPI) -- A painting some experts believe was completed by Italian Baroque artist Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio and found in a family's attic in France more than 400 years later was unveiled for the first time Tuesday.
The painting, Judith Beheading Holofernes, a gruesome depiction of a biblical scene, was found in the attic of a house near Toulouse, France, by a family investigating a leaky roof in 2014. Painted around 1604 and missing for about 400 years, it is believed to be untouched since a family member brought it home more than 150 years ago as a souvenir of Napoleon's military campaigns.
The painting was unveiled Tuesday in a Paris gallery where gallery owner Eric Turquin noted, "This particular lighting, this energy typical of Caravaggio without corrections, with a sure hand and the pictorial material make this painting an original."
Art experts have noted the bold brushstrokes in the Italian "alla brava" style typical of Caravaggio, a painter who did not use preparatory sketches, suggest the painting is not a copy.
Art auctioneer Marc Labarde, among the first to see the painting, said he immediately recognized the work as a Caravaggio before sending photographs to Turquin, initiating a two-year investigation.
"The whole painting was covered in a misty white, which was grime. So I took a bit of cotton and water and rubbed the dirt off the maid's face," said Labarde.
A similar painting by Carvaggio depicting the same execution of Holofernes, an Assyrian general, was done prior to the painting of the newly discovered art work, and hangs in Rome's National Gallery of Ancient Art.