Information about Art, Antiques and Auctions in Ireland and around the world
  • About Des
  • Contact

    Michelangelo Merisi, known as Caravaggio (1571-1610) – Judith and Holofernes (c. 1607)

    A long lost painting by Caravaggio – Judith and Holofernes – discovered by the auctioneer Marc Labarbe five years ago in an attic in Toulouse, France is be sold at auction next June 27 in Toulouse.  Estimated at 100-150 million euro it will be sold by Labarbe in collaboration with the art appraisal firm Cabinet Turquin.  The dilemma is that the case for it is compelling, not categoric.  The Louvre, which has three Caravaggios and an acquisition budget that is not bottomless, decided not to buy it.

    In 2014 Marc Labarbe, the Toulouse-based auctioneer, received a call from a client in Toulouse. While clearing out the attic, the client had discovered a painting belonging to his family. Labarbe quickly recognized it as an important 17th century Italian work. He called on the art appraiser Eric Turquin, expert in Old Master paintings.  Together with his team the painting was researched for two years. All the experts recognised it as a major work. The French Ministry of Culture classified it as a National Treasure, which prevented it from being taken out of the country for a period of 30 months. This deadline expired December 24, 2018.

    The painting depicts the biblical story of Judith, a young widow in the city of Bethulia who puts an end to the Assyrian siege on her city by seducing and beheading the general Holofernes. Looking on is her elderly servant, Abra. The family that owns it has lived in Toulouse for decades and descends from a Napoleonic officer who participated in the Spanish campaign from 1808 to 1814. Forty years ago, the heirs sold another famous painting that dated from the Spanish Golden Age.

    There are 68 known paintings by Caravaggio, only four of which are in private hands.  Marc Labarbe is known for having discovered in 2011 a Chinese imperial scroll that sold for €22 million.  This is the highest price ever fetched at auction for an Imperial Chinese painting.  The auction is to be conducted by Maison de Ventes Marc Labarbe ­ in Toulouse in collaboration with Cabinet d’Expertises Turquin.

    Leave a Reply