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Canaletto in England - Dulwich Picture Gallery

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

AN EXHIBITION entitled Canaletto in England is on display at Dulwich Picture Gallery until April 15, 2007.

In 1746, Canaletto visited England, beginning a nine-year stay that would completely re-launch his artistic career. This major exhibition brings together the paintings executed by Canaletto during this intriguing period.

Canaletto left a perfect city – Venice – and came to a magnificent mess. But London fascinated him. His views of England are often panoramic but precise to the last brick and flag-stone.

At the same time each scene is saturated in a distinct quality of light – we feel the season, the time of the day, the cut and patina of the buildings, the imperfect reflections in the rivers, and huge parks and skies.

In London the Thames seemed to him to be a huge commercial version of the Grand Canal, flanked by warehouses; beyond its boundaries the river became more idyllic. He painted suburban villas of the aristocracy and medieval castles.

This exhibition will be the first comprehensive treatment of this extraordinary episode. As well as including an outstanding selection of Canaletto’s views of London, country homes and castles, the exhibition will show Italian views and capricci which he painted in England, including views of Venice and decorative schemes done for palatial London houses.

English Grand Tourists (as they were called) had poured into Italy and bought up the pick of Canaletto’s world-famous views of Venice. In this way the exhibition will provide a complete account of Canaletto’s activity in England. Many of the loans come from English private collections, which are not open to the public.

The exhibition catalogue was written by Charles Beddington, the Exhibition Curator. The exhibition is co-organized with the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, USA where it was shown between October 19 and December 31, 2006.

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