An alleged Caravaggio sketch laid next to the old soldier in the master painter’s Conversion of Saul. Photograph: Ansa/EPA

A team of historians have claimed to have stumbled on 100 previously undiscovered early sketches by Caravaggio hidden in a castle in Milan, a cache they have valued at £560m.

The sketches were found among 1,378 works in the archive of painter Simone Peterzano, who employed the teenage Michelangelo Merisi, known as Caravaggio, as an apprentice in his Lombardy studio between 1584 and 1588, before the young painter headed south to Rome to win fame.

“We always felt it was impossible that Caravaggio left no record, no studies in the workshop of a painter as famous as his mentor,” Maurizio Bernardelli Curuz Guerrieri, artistic director for the Brescia Museum Foundation, told Italian news agency Ansa.


Tom Kington