Italian art experts have reportedly discovered a cache of around 100 previously unseen drawings and a number of paintings by the Renaissance master Caravaggio, the find could be worth up to $AU850 million. The artworks were found among a collection of works held at Sforza Castle in the northern Italian city of Vigevano. The sketches and paintings were done by the pupils of painter Simone Peterzano, with whom Caravaggio studied from the age of 11.
Photographs of the works, extracts of which were published in the Italian media, range from preparative anatomical sketches to religious scenes. The newly-unearthed works could be worth around 700 million euros according to experts Maurizio Bernardelli Curuz and Adriana Conconi Fedrigolli, who has been studying the paintings for two years, the ANSA news agency said.
The estimate of their worth is based on the average sale price at auction for drawings by Renaissance artists over the past few years ::::
“It was impossible that Caravaggio had left no trace of his activity between 1584 and 1588 at the workshop of a painter who was famous and sought after at the time,” Bernardelli Cruz was quoted as saying in La Repubblica.
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”.
“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.
Hailed as the master of the ‘chiaroscuro‘ technique – Italian, literally meaning ‘light-dark’, refers to clear tonal contrasts which are often used to suggest the volume and modeling of the subjects depicted - Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, 29 September 1571 – 18 July 1610, his paintings combined a realistic observation of the human state, both physical and emotional, with a dramatic use of lighting, had a formative influence on the Baroque school of painting.
In 1606 he killed a young man in a brawl and fled from Rome with a price on his head. He was involved in a brawl in Malta in 1608, and another in Naples in 1609, possibly a deliberate attempt on his life by unidentified enemies. This encounter left him severely injured.
A year later, at the age of 38, he died under mysterious circumstances in Porto Ercole, reportedly from a fever while on his way to Rome to receive a pardon. He was buried in a mass grave.
Infamous while he lived, Caravaggio was forgotten almost immediately after his death, and it was only in the 20th century that his importance to the development of Western art was rediscovered.
source: la repubblica