A painting of the Last Supper that had been hanging on the walls of a small English church for more than 100 years, was recently discovered to have a link to the workshop of Titian, the greatest painter of 16th-century Venice.

The discovery of the historic value of the painting came as an accident. CNN reported that Ronald Moore, an art historian and conservator, was called to work on another art piece found in the same church in Herefordshire, more particularly the St. Michael and All Angels Church in Ledbury. However, the Last Supper painting, which measures 12 feet by five feet caught his attention.

Moore noticed that the canvas was discoloured and somehow neglected. The church has been the home of the painting since 1909. Three years ago, Moore was commissioned to research and restore the piece.

The research of Moore and his partner, Patricia Kenny, revealed that the painting was produced in Tiziano Vecelio's workshop, the legendary Italian Renaissance master painter, more popularly known as Titian. It took them 11,000 hours of research, trying to establish the link of the painting to the great Venetian painter, BBC revealed.

"It wasn't until I got into the studio and began to examine it that I realized quite how important it was," said Moore.

The conservator said that Titian took about 20 years to complete the masterpiece. The timeframe that Moore pointed out was between 1560 and 1580.

Titian died in 1576 and the Last Supper painting in the Herefordshire Church was among the unfinished pieces.

"It is almost certainly the only large-scale Titian workshop painting that is undiscovered until now. Being created over 20 years, it gives us the opportunity to examine the different hands involved in the workshop," Moore explained.

Last Supper
Last Supper painting by Titian. Photo: Ledbury Parish Church

Moore and his researcher discovered that the signature of Titian was quaintly hidden in the "jug." More research revealed that a Venetian convent commissioned the work. Around two centuries later, an English gentleman, John Skippe, bought the painting. For many years, the painting hung at the upper Hall in Ledbury, and later was given to the church as a gift.

According to Moore, when he took on the job, he could not have imagined that the painting will be the biggest art mystery that he would get to come across.