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Il Contento

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Il Contento about 1607

Not on display

This is the second of three surviving preparatory drawings that Elsheimer produced for his celebrated painting ‘Il Contento’. The other two are in the Cabinet des Dessins in the Louvre, Paris. Few of Elsheimer’s pen drawings for his paintings survive. This sheet is extremely detailed and shows a number of the figures that appear in the finished painting, albeit with some slight alterations. The nude female striding towards the action from the left and the older man pulling the goddess’ cloak are very close to their painted counterparts. The bustling action of the foreground gives way to a blank backdrop, with only a mere suggestion of a landscape sketched in with the brush. Elsheimer used washes of ink to suggest light and shade, and to make his figures appear more fully three dimensional.

Glossary Open


A transparent layer of diluted ink or watercolour.



  • Acc. No. RSA 298
  • Medium Pen and brown ink and grey wash over black chalk on two sheets of paper joined in the centre
  • Size 28.80 x 37.40 cm
  • Credit David Laing Bequest to the Royal Scottish Academy on loan 1966