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Caravaggio in Toulouse, the passionate struggle of the expert Eric Turquin

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Paris (AFP)

For Eric Turquin's expert, undoubtedly allowed the image Judith and Holofernes found on the attic in Toulouse: it's Caravaggio's high invoices, and even the revolutionary, as well as the brisk strokes of the brush as the depth of the field.

Picture, with three characters – The Holofer who was cut off, the old servant Abra and Judith – was unveiled on Friday at the Drouot Hotel in Paris. It has already been shown at the Colnaghi Gallery in London and the Adam Williams Gallery in New York.

When offered at the auction on June 27 at the Toulouse Grain Fair, prices could increase if the expert's conviction prevails. For Eric Turquin, this is a shaky outcome of a long fight. For if all connoisseurs recognize their quality, the minority continues to think that it is a copy of the lost original, which was simultaneously realized by the Flemish Caravagian painter Louis Finson.

"After five years of thinking, I have no argument against me," says the chief French expert of old masters. "I think it's worth more than a hundred million euros," he says.

"We cleaned the canvas for three weeks in January." Cleaning, after X-ray recording, "showed that the picture had many changes, that it was very much altered, proves to be original, that the copyist does not make any changes, he copies it."

In the vault on the last floor of a Parisian building where he has his office at Rue Saint-Anne, Eric Turquin kept the canvas. Cleaning is height, which "reveals the whiteness of Holofern's hand that contrasts with his tanned arm, making the heavy red curtain more present, less flat." She exaggerated the space, which emphasizes the feeling of the mini tragic theater "corresponding to the biblical scene." The picture is in extraordinary a country much better than Caravaggio I saw in Naples, "he exclaims.

– The weird Judith's eye –

He did not return the canvas. It shows below the traces of water damage in the attic of Toulouse and the horizontal seam in the middle. "It will be a museum that will get him to return it the way he wants it."

Eric Turquin points his finger at Judith's eye. The black line 3 mm above the lid shows that at first the glance was looking towards Holofern, and that the artist changed his mind, which made him away from the assassination she had committed.

In the same way, the black veil was added and all the fingers were subject to "repentance".

According to Eric Turquin, this picture is a milestone in the creation of Caravaggia. In 1598 he painted the first Judith and Holofernes (currently in the Barberini Palace in Rome), a masterpiece, but more formal. "He changes his style, painted in risparmio, in reserve: he uses the already existing black background and paints only accents, which is particularly noticeable on the list."

He is a painter who escaped in 1606 (after being convicted of murder in Rome), has a darker inspiration, "who wants to paint faster, more spontaneous, more percussion." almost a meter, he is in one stroke painting Judith's lace sleeve, virtuoso brush, "says an expert.

Eric Turquin remembers that in 2014, after the picture arrived from Toulouse, "he kept sixteen months in his room." "Insurers, caterers, art historians came to see it, and we expected to be sure in April 2016 to get out of the woods."

Eric Turquin expresses little bitterness to Italian experts: "They spoke against the picture without seeing it, they say it's not possible because Caravaggio would paint 65 pictures", for them "history" the art is frozen " .

In addition to technical arguments, he emphasizes the "knowledge" of this talented talent, which makes you feel deeply that the canvas is authentic or not.

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