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Venice: Canaletto and His Rivals

February 20 – May 30, 2011
East Building, Upper Level

Canaletto, The Square of Saint Mark's, Venice, 1742/1744, oil on canvas, Gift of Mrs. Barbara Hutton, 1945.15.3

This exhibition is no longer on view at the National Gallery.

Overview: 20 paintings by Canaletto together with 34 paintings by his contemporaries, including Gaspar Vanvitelli, Luca Carlevarijs, Michele Marieschi, Bernardo Bellotto, and Francesco Guardi, were shown in this exhibition, which explored cityscapes of Venice and the styles and rivalries of the artists. Works on view were from the collection of the National Gallery of Art, and loans from public and private collections in Europe and the United States. 2 historical cameras obscura, on loan from the Museo Correr, Venice, also were shown, together with 3 modern examples to illustrate use of the tool in creating accurate landscape images. A 35-foot-long gondola that once belonged to the American painter Thomas Moran, on loan from the Mariners' Museum, Newport News, Virginia, was shown on the East Building Mezzanine. The exhibition was part of ITALY@150, a series of activities in Washington, DC, and throughout the United States celebrating the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy.

An audio tour narrated by National Gallery of Art Director Earl A. Powell III was available. Exhibition curator Charles Beddington presented "Introduction to the Exhibition—Canaletto and His Rivals" on February 20. Eric Denker, senior lecturer, National Gallery of Art, spoke on "Canaletto's Venice: The Art of Fiction," on March 13. Denker also presented a five-lecture course, "The Fabric of Venice," exploring the urban environment of the city, in association with the exhibition. Michael Kahn, artistic director, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Washington, D.C., Eric Denker, and Faya Causey, head of the department of academic programs, National Gallery of Art, discussed "Shakespeare's Italy" in a program on May 22. A public symposium, "Sights and Sounds of 18th Century Venice," was presented in association with the exhibition, and a teacher workshop was held on March 5. A 40-minute exhibition film produced by the National Gallery, London, was shown in the East Building auditorium. A 15-minute version of the film was shown within the exhibition. A special menu of Italian dishes by Chef Fabio Trabocchi was available at the Garden Café. Concerts in February and March included works by Vivaldi and other Italian composers. The Venice Baroque Orchestra performed on April 10.

Organization: The exhibition was organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and the National Gallery, London. Canaletto scholar Charles Beddington was curator. David Alan Brown, curator of Italian and Spanish paintings, National Gallery of Art, was coordinator in Washington.

Sponsor: The exhibition was made possible by the Bracco Foundation and through the support of the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation. Additional support was provided by Sally Engelhard Pingree and The Charles Engelhard Foundation. The exhibition was supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

Attendance: 115,726 (100 days)

Catalog: Venice: Canaletto and His Rivals, by Charles Beddington. London: National Gallery Company Limited, 2010.

Other Venues: National Gallery, London, October 13, 2010–January 16, 2011

Education Resource: Inside Scoop: Canaletto

"The Square of Saint Mark's, Venice," 1742/1744, Canaletto
Video, Released: November 1, 2011, (2:20 minutes)
Michael Kahn and Shakespeare's Italy
Audio, Released: September 6, 2011, (52:57 minutes)
Concerts in Honor of Venice: Canaletto and His Rivals
Audio, Released: July 19, 2011, (48:26 minutes)
Sights and Sounds of 18th-Century Venice Symposium
Audio, Released: May 17, 2011, (239:13 minutes)
Introduction to the Exhibition—Venice: Canaletto and His Rivals
Audio, Released: March 8, 2011, (57:33 minutes)
Press Event: Venice: Canaletto and His Rivals
Audio, Released: February 15, 2011, (31:39 minutes)
The Moran Gondola
Audio, Released: February 8, 2011, (20:59 minutes)