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Giulio ContariniEnlarge image

Giulio Contarini, c. 1570-1576

Alessandro Vittoria
Italian, 1525 - 1608
painted terracotta
74.3 x 61 x 30.7 cm with integral base
Purchased 2002
National Gallery of Canada (no. 40984)

Although the name of the Venetian painter Titian appears on the base, the bust has recently been identified as a portrait of Giulio Contarini (c. 1500-1580), a member of the powerful ruling class of Venice, who served as a Procurator, or administrator, of the basilica of San Marco and its properties. Vittoria made a marble version of the bust for Contarini's monument in the church of Santa Maria del Giglio, which was completed in 1576. With its sympathetic realism and spontaneity of expression, the bust represents an important achievement for portrait sculpture in the Venetian High Renaissance. Vittoria often worked in the medium of "terracotta" ("baked earth"), a red clay that allows fine detailing when wet.

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