Rome: A team of art historians has claimed to have discovered 100 previously unknown drawings and paintings by renaissance giant Caravaggio and has published the finds in two e-books.
Caravaggio, whose full name was Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, was born in Milan in 1571. He worked in Rome, Naples, Malta, and Sicily between 1593 and 1610.
Notorious for his mercurial temper and penchant for brawling, Caravaggio died in mysterious circumstances on a beach in Tuscany, aged 38.
The works were identified during two years of painstaking research in the Sforzesco Castle and Saint Barnabas Church in the northern Italian city of Milan by a team led by Italian art historians Maurizio Bernardelli Curuz and Adriana Conconi Fedrigolli.
The artworks include 10 oil paintings and a self-portrait. The value of the sketches alone is estimated at 700 million euro.
The works had remained unidentified for 100 years, but have now been published in two 600-page e-books titled "The Young Caravaggio: A hundred rediscovered works" available with online retail giant Amazon.
They are believed to date from Caravaggio`s earliest years as a painter, when he was a young apprentice under Simone Peterzano, a painter in Milan, from 1584 to 1588.
Only 90 paintings by Caravaggio, a master of the "chiaroscuro" technique of lighting, were previously known to exist.
Art historians Curuz and Fedrigolli managed to keep their research under wraps, and the announcement of their potentially revolutionary discovery has caused a storm in the art world.
If the newly discovered works are verified, they will revolutionise the study of Caravaggio`s life and works, they said.
Some Caravaggio experts, however, have voiced doubts over the authenticity of the 100 works.
"The drawings have always been there, and have never yet been attributed to Caravaggio," said Elena Conenna, the Milan council`s spokeswoman for culture.
"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."