Born in Ferrara to a prominent family of lawyers, As a young man in search of a career, he traveled from Rome to Paris in 1701. In Paris, he came under the patronage of a nobleman by the name of Bernardino Macchi of Cremona, and traveled with him to Cremona where he met the landscape painter Francesco Bassi. More important than his painting, he is claimed by Luigi Lanzi to have discovered the method to transferring wood paintings to canvas. His son Francesco Contri was also a painter.
- Garollo, Gottardo (1907). Ulrico Hoepli, ed. Dizionario biografico universale. Editore Libraio della Real Casa, Milan. p. 572.
- Date in Gottardo is 1849, Treccani states 1844.
- *Girolamo Baruffaldi (1844). Vite de' pittori e scultori ferraresi: con annotazioni, Volume 2. Domenico Taddei, Ferrara. pp. 338–306.
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