Black chalk, pen and brown ink and brown wash, shaped along the lower margin
182 x 191 mm. (7 x 7 in.)
Johann Khn (1902-1943) (Frits Lugt 3779); Benedikt Moser (1898-1988) (Frits Lugt 1828a); Private collection, USA.
The attribution has been made by Dr. Metzger, on first hand inspection of the drawing.
Born in Venice, Contarini was a contemporary of Palma il Giovane. He was a student of the works of Tintoretto and Titian and is declared to have been an exact imitator of Titian. According to an old story he was so extremely accurate in his portraits that on sending home one he had taken of Marco Dolce, his dogs began to fawn upon it, mistaking it for their master. Contarini's work is extremely mannered, soft and sweet, but distinguished by beautiful, rich colouring and executed very much on the lines of Titian's painting. His finest picture is in the Louvre, having been removed from the ducal palace at Venice, and represents the Virgin and Child with St Mark and St Sebastian, and the Doge of Venice, Marino Grimani, kneeling before them. Other paintings of his are in the galleries at Berlin, Florence, Milan, and Vienna, and in many of the churches at Venice. He painted easel-pictures of Greek and Roman mythological subjects, which are treated with propriety and discretion but are peculiarly lacking in force and strength; in many of the palaces in Venice he decorated ceilings.
He worked at the court of the Emperor Rudolf II, and by whom he was knighted. His work has been described by one writer as a "combination of sugar, cream, mulberry juice, sunbeam and velvet", but the criticism is a little unjust and one or two of his works, for example the "Resurrection" in the church of Francesco di Paola at Venice, can claim to be masterly.
Benedikt Moser, better known under the name of Benno Moser, had moved to Vienna in 1924, created with his friend Johann (Hans) Khn (1902-1943) a collection of drawings. Hans Khn commited suicide to escape the Nazis, his friend Moser inherits from the collection. This explains the frequent presence of their two stamps on several works, as in our drawing.