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Largest-ever display of Canaletto paintings in Scotland goes on show at The Queen's Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse

Release date: Friday, 11 May 2018

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A new exhibition at The Queen's Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse includes the largest group of Canaletto paintings ever shown in Scotland.  Canaletto & the Art of Venice explores the work of Italy's most famous view-painter, and how he and his contemporaries captured the essence and allure of 18th-century Venice.  The Royal Collection contains one of the world's greatest holdings of Canaletto's paintings and drawings thanks to George III, who purchased the collection of Consul Smith, patron and dealer to the artist, for £20,000 in 1762. 

Among the highlights of the exhibition are Canaletto's most famous views of the Grand Canal.  These 12 vivid and precise paintings, executed over several years in the late 1720s, depict a near-complete journey down the waterway.  From the quayside palaces and workshops on the Grand Canal’s upper reaches to the bustling festivities around St Mark’s Square, the artist brilliantly captures the effects of light on stone and water, and fills each work with a snapshot of Venetian daily life. 

Recently conserved and on display for the first time are a pair of paintings by Francesco Zuccarelli, an Italian artist whose work was hugely popular in Britain.  From around 1730 Zuccarelli devoted himself exclusively to landscapes, such as Landscape with Diana Appearing to Endymion, c.1740–45, and River Landscape with Apollo Pursuing Daphne, c.1740–45, which shows the mythological story from Ovid's Metamorposes.  The oil-on-panel paintings demonstrate the artist's ability to create mythological worlds on a small scale. The paint strokes suggest they were painted quickly, over skies already laid on the panel. 

Through over 100 paintings, drawings and prints drawn entirely from the Royal Collection, Canaletto & the Art of Venice  explores how artists captured the spirit of this thriving city, from its burgeoning theatre and opera scene to the grand public entertainments and religious spectacles.


Canaletto & the Art of Venice is at The Queen’s Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse, 11 May – 21 October 2018.