A PAINTING that spent 120 years gathering dust in an Almeria church has turned out to be by Italian artist Titian.

Saint John the Baptist was presented to Madrid’s Prado Museum in a very bad state in 1872, with experts told it had been painted by ‘an anonymous 17th century artist’.

Fourteen years later the oil on canvas was loaned to Cantoria’s parish church, Nuestra Senora del Carmen, where it stayed until 2007.

But when art expert Miguel Falomir visited the church he got a hunch the painting was in fact an original Titian – and not just a copy of one as previously thought.

Following an extensive restoration project, the painting is now confirmed as having been produced by the hand of the Venetian artist during the 1500s.

Main tell-tale signs included the presence of a preparatory layer of lead white paint, as well as the similarity between the landscape and that of other Titian paintings of the same period.

“The main surprise came when an X-ray revealed this painting’s composition is very similar to other works in the Venice Academy,” said Falomir.


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