12-18-2007 09:15

A painting believed to be an early work by Caravaggio goes on public display in the Sicilian town on Trapani, Saturday. A casual glance at an auction catalogue set a British art historian on the path to discovering the true origins of the painting. The painting previously had been attributed to an anonymous follower of the Baroque master.

Experts in Italy believe Caravaggio's "The Cardsharps" is an earlier version of the artist's 1594 painting, now on display at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, The "earlier" painting surfaced at a London auction last year.

The previously anonymous work was picked up at Sotheby's auction in December 2006 by art historian and collector Denis Mahon.

Mahon was at a restaurant when he spotted a painting attributed to a Caravaggio follower in a catalogue. He noted the distinctive brushstrokes and quickly linked it to Caravaggio's the "Cardsharps".