Caravaggio 'hoard' discovered
It is either the artistic find of the century or, quite frankly, an embarrassing mistake. Italian art historians claimed yesterday to have found 100 previously unknown works by Caravaggio.
The sketches and paintings, if proved to be authentic, would be worth an estimated €700m.
Experts said that after two years of rigorous analysis, they had found "remarkable similarities" between the newly discovered works, kept in a castle in Milan, and the known works of the Renaissance master. The surprise announcement, which sent shockwaves through the art world, raised as many questions as it answered, however.
The historians apparently managed to keep their research a secret for two years, but today their findings will be published in a lavish, two-volume, 600-page e-book in four languages.
The works are believed to date from 1584 to 1588, Caravaggio's earliest years as a painter.
They compared known Caravaggio masterpieces in churches and museums with the sketches and paintings in the castle archive and found "startling" similarities between the two bodies of work.
The drawings were an early template for "the faces, bodies and scenes the young Caravaggio would use in later years", the experts said.
Caravaggio, who lived from 1571 to 1610, was notorious for his mercurial temper and penchant for brawling.
He had to flee Rome for Sicily after a fight in which he killed a man. He later became involved in a brawl in Malta in which he wounded a knight.
He died at the age of 36 in Porto Ercole on the coast of Tuscany. (© Daily Telegraph, London)