Italian art experts have discovered around 100 drawings and some paintings by the young Renaissance master Caravaggio when he was training in Milan, ANSA news agency said Thursday.
The artworks were found among a collection of works held at Sforza Castle in the northern Italian city, which were done by the pupils of painter Simone Peterzano, with whom Caravaggio studied from the age of 11.
The newly unearthed works could be worth around 700 million euros ($867 million) according to experts Maurizio Bernardelli Curuz and Adriana Conconi Fedrigolli, who has been studying the paintings for two years, ANSA said.
The estimate is based on the average sale price at auction for drawings by Renaissance artists over the past few years.
Art experts have attributed the works to Caravaggio, but the city, which owns the works, urged caution.
"The drawings have always been there, and have never yet been attributed to Caravaggio," said Elena Conenna, the council's culture spokeswoman, who said the city had not been informed beforehand and "will be carrying out checks."
Visitors look at a painting by Italian artist Michelangelo Merisi, known as Caravaggio, in June 2012 at the Fabre Museum in Montpellier, France. Italian art experts have discovered around 100 drawings and a few paintings done by the young Renaissance master Caravaggio when he was training in Milan, ANSA news agency said Thursday.
"We'll be very happy to discover it's true. But it's strange. They weren't in a hidden place, they were accessible to all. While lots of experts come, these two have not been to see the works in the last two years," she said.
ANSA said the discovery came after a lengthy search through churches in Milan, as well as the collection of 1,378 drawings done by Peterzano and his students.
The drawings were attributed to a "strong, quick but dirty hand" and show "the faces, bodies and scenes the young Caravaggio would use in later years," the experts told ANSA.
The works will be published on Friday in an e-book, along with "a protest written and signed by the young Caravaggio," the agency said.
Michelangelo Merisi (1571-1610), or Caravaggio, is known as one of history's most tormented painters. He was involved in frequent brawls and vicious beatings and fled Rome after being sentenced to death for killing a love rival.
Hailed as the master of the "chiaro-scuro" technique -- the contrast of shadow and light -- he died of fever in exile and was buried in a mass grave.