Canaletto: Painting Venice ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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May 17, 2021Sep 5, 2021

Presenting the most important set of paintings of Venice by Canaletto (1697 – 1768), which have left their home at Woburn Abbey – one of world’s most important private art collections – for the first time in more than 70 years.

This once in a lifetime exhibition will enable art lovers to enjoy and study up-close twenty-three beautiful paintings, in a fascinating exhibition that also explores Canaletto’s life and work, alongside themes of 18th-century Venice and the Grand Tour. This is one of the rare occasions that any of the successive Dukes of Bedford and Trustees of the Bedford Estates have lent the set of paintings since they arrived in Britain from Canaletto in the 1730s.

They were commissioned by the 4th Duke of Bedford, who was evidently attracted by Canaletto’s burgeoning reputation for producing precise and atmospheric views of the Italian city’s most iconic views and landmarks. The Duke, then Lord John Russell, was in Venice on the Grand Tour in 1731, and presumably met Joseph Smith, Canaletto’s newly appointed agent, who was a Venetian resident and later British consul there. Three bills from Smith to the Duke survive in the family papers; dated 1733, 1735 and 1736, those add up to just over £188 (about £16,000 today), and must be incomplete, judging from what we know of the prices Canaletto commanded.

Created over a nine-year period, when the artist was at the pinnacle of his career, the Woburn Abbey paintings are the largest set of paintings that Canaletto ever produced, and much the largest that has remained together. The Holburne exhibition provides a unique and unprecedented opportunity to see these exceptional paintings at viewing height, as they normally hang three high in the setting in the Dining Room they have occupied at Woburn since the late eighteenth century. The set features not only classic views of the Grand Canal and the Piazza S. Marco but also some of the city’s less well-known nooks and crannies, rarely captured by other artists and revealing new historical and cultural perspectives on Venice in its last decades as the “most serene Republic”.

Ticket Booking:

Before you visit please read our Museum Charter and Q&A at our coronavirus page.

Your entry ticket Includes Canaletto: Painting Venice, Precious & Rare: Islamic Metalwork from The Courtauld, and Nicholas Pope: Portraits of a Marriage in addition to our permanent collection. Valid all day for the date you book and not timed (you can enter any time during our normal opening hours). There are no timed entry tickets.

You can book in advance here, or you can also just purchase tickets on arrival at the Museum.
Last Admissions to the Museum is 4.30pm.

Once you have booked online you will receive a confirmation email. Please show this on your mobile or smart device on entry or print it off at home and show on entry.

We look forward to seeing you.

Don’t miss our free online talk exploring how Canaletto’s paintings of Venice have been used to measure changing sea levels 7pm, 8 July.

Supported by:
Van and Eva DuBose
Patrons of the Holburne Museum
British Italian Society
Fiol Prosecco
The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation
Reymond Langton Design


The Holburne Museum
Holburne Museum
Bath, BA2 4DB United Kingdom
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