“We do not want to take part in the debate over the authenticity of the painting, we just want to allow it to be compared to contemporaneous works by Caravaggio,” said a spokesman for Milan's Brera museum of painting, where the work will be on display until February 5th.
The 400-year-old tableau made headlines in 2014 when the owners of a house near the southwestern city of Toulouse discovered it while investigating a leak in the ceiling.
It depicts a biblical scene – the beheading of an Assyrian general, Holofernes, by Judith – and was in remarkably good condition when it was found. Experts said at the time that it could be worth 120 million euros ($132 million).
Some specialists however dispute its authenticity, attributing the work to a Flemish contemporary, Louis Finson.
The museum has hedged its bets by including an asterisk on its caption attributing the work to Caravaggio but referring viewers to notes on its history in the exhibition catalogue.
This was not sufficient to appease a member of the museum's advisory board, art historian Giovanni Agosti, who has resigned over the issue.