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Venice: Canaletto and His Rivals Celebrated with Rich Array of Related Programs at the National Gallery of Art

Washington, DC—The National Gallery of Art plans a host of programs in honor of its major exhibition Venice: Canaletto and His Rivals, on view in the East Building from February 20 through May 30, 2011—the sole U.S. venue. Exploring the themes of this exhibition are lectures, a symposium, films, concerts, gallery talks, an audio tour, a new menu of signature Italian dishes created by Chef Fabio Trabocchi for the Garden Café, and inspired gift items and books in Gallery Shops. Also timed to coincide with this celebrated exhibition is La Dolce DC, a citywide celebration from March 1 to May 30, of all things Italian.

All programs are presented free of charge in the East Building Auditorium unless otherwise noted. Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Public Symposium

Sights and Sounds of 18th-Century Venice
April 2 and 3

Lecture Programs

Introduction to the Exhibition—Venice: Canaletto and His Rivals
February 20, 2:00 p.m.
Charles Beddington, guest curator, and David Alan Brown, curator of Italian paintings, National Gallery of Art

Canaletto's Venice: The Art of Fiction
March 13, 2:00 p.m.
Eric Denker, senior lecturer, National Gallery of Art

Michael Kahn and Shakespeare's Italy
May 22, 2:00 p.m.
Michael Kahn, artistic director, Shakespeare Theatre Company, in conversation

Special Lecture Course

The Fabric of Venice
Eric Denker, senior lecturer, National Gallery of Art
Tuesdays at 12:30 p.m. in the East Building Auditorium and Saturdays at 12:30 p.m. in the West Building Lecture Hall
This five-lecture course explores the constituent elements of the urban environment in one of Europe's fabled cities.

February 22 and 26—From Bellini to Canaletto to Whistler: Venice Depicted

March 1 and 5—Spanning La Serenissima: The Canals and Bridges

March 8 and 12—Orbis Mundi: The Piazza, the Squares, and the Courtyards of Venice

April 26 and 30—Sacred Spaces: Saint Mark's Basilica and the Churches of Venice

May 10 and 14—Venetian Beneficence, Venetian Magnificence: Scuole Great and Small

Gallery Talks

Regular public tours of Venice: Canaletto and His Rivals will be offered by the adult programs department of the education division. For times and topics, please consult the bimonthly calendar of events or the Gallery Talk section of the Gallery website at

Audio Tour

A self-guided recorded tour of the exhibition, narrated by Gallery Director Earl A. Powell III and with commentary by leading scholars on Venetian art and history, will be available for rental ($5.00) at the entrance to the exhibition. Focusing on major works in the exhibition, the tour will shed light on the popularity of paintings of Venice in the 18th century, when the maritime republic's economic and political glory had waned but the city's beauty and renowned festivals attracted ever-growing crowds of visitors. Comparisons of paintings depicting the same locations or similar subjects will illuminate the rivalry between Canaletto and artists such as Bernardo Bellotto and Francesco Guardi as they sought to capture the splendor of La Serenissima, the Most Serene Republic of Venice.

Exhibition Film

Venice: Canaletto and His Rivals
This lively and engaging film, largely shot on location in Venice, puts Canaletto and his talented but lesser-known rivals in context. Taking a closer look at the patrons and artists, the film also seeks to explain how the Grand Tourists' passion for Venice and its colorful round of festivals and ceremonies shaped the pictures by which we still define the city today. The 40-minute version of this film will be shown in the East Building Auditorium Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 2:30 p.m. and select Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. from February 20 to May 30. A 15-minute version is shown inside the exhibition continuously. The film was produced by the National Gallery, London.

Film Programs

Neorealismo 1941–1954: Days of Glory
January 8–February 26
Born out of turmoil in postwar Italy, neorealism addressed a moral and aesthetic need in the Italian cinema, in Roberto Rossellini's words, "to express things as they are." Forsaking artificial sets and the mannered effects of studio production for natural locations and nonprofessional actors, the neorealist collaborators shared a conviction that the subject of art must be ordinary life (a perspective that was gaining ground elsewhere as well). Spanning the decisive decade when the political and social order in Italy was still fermenting, this series features a variety of formal approaches by eight directors along with critical writers such as Cesare Zavattini and Carlo Lizzani. Presented in association with Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia-Cineteca Nazionale, Cinecittà Luce S.p.A., and the Embassy of Italy, with thanks to the Pacific Film Archive, Susan Oxtoby, Laura Argento, Rosaria Focarelli, and the Italian Cultural Institute of Washington.

Remembering Risorgimento
March 12, 13, 19
The Italian cinema is rich with romantic and heroic spectacles set against dramatic moments in Italy's history. To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Risorgimento, the Italian unification movement, the Gallery presents three films that incorporate rich motifs from the era. Together they offer radically dissimilar styles and different ideological perspectives. The centerpiece is the new restoration of Luchino Visconti's epic Il Gattopardo, presented through the courtesy of Martin Scorsese, The Film Foundation, Gucci, and Cineteca di Bologna. With thanks to the Embassy of Italy and the Italian Cultural Institute.

Ciné-Concert: The Italian
March 19, 1:00 p.m.
Music by Donald Sosin and Joanna Seaton
Early dramas on the subject of new immigrants to America rarely had the fervor or sophistication of The Italian, a Thomas Ince production about Beppo Donnetti (George Beban), a poor Venetian gondolier whose dreams become nightmares when he faces the realities of New York's Lower East Side. The Italian is preserved from the original paper print held in the Library of Congress collection. (Reginald Barker and Thomas Ince, 1915, 35 mm, silent with live music, 80 minutes)

Death in Venice
May 15, 4:30 p.m.
Luchino Visconti's incomparable 1971 masterwork is presented in a restored Italian archival print on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the death of Austrian composer Gustav Mahler, whose music is featured on the soundtrack.


Vivaldi Project
February 20, 6:30 p.m.
Music by Vivaldi and other composers
West Building Main Floor, West Garden Court

Red Priest
February 27, 6:30 p.m.
Music by Vivaldi and other composers
West Building Main Floor, West Garden Court

National Gallery of Art Vocal Ensemble and Chatham Baroque
March 13, 6:30 p.m.
Music by Vivaldi and other composers
West Building Main Floor, West Garden Court

Inna Faliks, pianist
March 30, 12:10 p.m.
Music by Tania León and Fanny Mendelssohn, 3 Melodies; Sheila Silver, 6 Preludes on Baudelaire; and Lera Auerbach, La Fenice, Sonata # 1 on the Art of Venice in honor of Women's History Month and Venice: Canaletto and His Rivals
West Building Ground Floor, Lecture Hall

Venice Baroque Orchestra
April 10, 6:30 p.m.
Music by Vivaldi and other composers
West Building Main Floor, West Garden Court

Teacher Workshop

Venice: Canaletto and His Rivals
Saturday, March 5 (repeated Saturday, March 19), 10:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m.
East Building Concourse, Education Studio
Drawing on the exhibition Venice: Canaletto and His Rivals, this workshop will compare Canaletto's pictures to those of other successful Venetian view painters and examine their approaches to vistas and landmark buildings such as the Doge's Palace and the Grand Canal. Following an introductory talk on the exhibition, participants will have a choice between a studio art activity and a lecture that explores Venice in film and literature. Fee: $10; registration required; please visit

Garden Café Italia

In honor of the exhibitions Venice: Canaletto and His Rivals and Italian Master Drawings from the Wolfgang Ratjen Collection, 1525–1835 (May 8–November 27, 2011), as well as the Gallery's renowned collection of Italian masterpieces, Chef Fabio Trabocchi will transform the menu in the Garden Café from February 12, 2011 to March 20, 2012. Returning from New York to DC in 2011 to open the highly anticipated restaurant Fiola in Penn Quarter, Chef Trabocchi will create a menu of signature Italian dishes for the Garden Café, including a buffet as well as à la carte selections.

Located in the West Building near the 6th Street and Constitution Avenue entrance, the Garden Café is open for lunch Monday to Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 4:00 p.m. It offers a special preconcert menu on performance Sundays, October to May, 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. For more information or to make reservations, please call (202) 712-7454 or visit

Garden Café Italia is presented in partnership with Restaurant Associates and Executive Chef David Rogers at the National Gallery of Art.

Gallery Shops

The exhibition catalogue will be sold in English in hardcover and softcover; French, German, Italian, and Spanish translations will be available in softcover. The Gallery Shops will also offer a wide selection of scholarly titles, books on Venice, several children's books, DVDs of the exhibition film, a CD of music from 18th-century Venice, and a 2012 wall calendar with images of works on view in the exhibition. In honor of Chef Fabio Trabocchi's menu in the Garden Café Italia, his book Cucina of Le Marche: A Chef's Treasury of Recipes from Italy's Last Culinary Frontier will be available.

Visit the Shops, browse online at, call (800) 697-9350 or (202) 842-6002, fax (202) 789-3047, or e-mail [email protected].

Celebrating Italy

The exhibition is part of ITALY@150, a series of activities in Washington, DC, and throughout the United States that celebrates the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy and the long-lasting friendship between the two countries. Learn more at

From March 1 to May 30, Washington, DC, will celebrate its connections to Italian culture with La Dolce DC. Timed to coincide with the Gallery's exhibition Venice: Canaletto and His Rivals and a staging of “The Merchant of Venice” at the Shakespeare Theatre Company, this celebration is also designed to showcase the ways in which Italians have contributed to DC's cultural fabric and grandeur. In addition to this landmark exhibition and the Italian masterpieces in the permanent collection, the Gallery will present an array of offerings celebrating Italian culture, including lectures, film programs, concerts, Gallery Talks, and Garden Café Italia.

About the Exhibition

The National Gallery of Art, Washington, will present some 20 of Canaletto's finest paintings of Venice with more than 30 by his most important contemporaries, including Gaspar Vanvitelli, Luca Carlevarijs, Michele Marieschi, Bernardo Bellotto, and Francesco Guardi, in Venice: Canaletto and His Rivals, on view from February 20 through May 30, 2011, in the East Building. These dazzling cityscapes represent the best view painters of Venice—each responding to the city in his own way, and each competing in a market driven largely by the British Grand Tour, which was at its height during the 18th century.

The entrance to the exhibition will feature a 37-foot-long gondola that once belonged to the American painter Thomas Moran and is now in the collection of The Mariners' Museum, Newport News, Virginia. One of the world's oldest gondolas, it will visually "transport" visitors to the lagoon city celebrated in the views of Canaletto and his rivals.

The convergence of art and science will be represented in a monumental first edition of Iconografica Rappresentatione della Inclita Città di Venezia (1729), one of the greatest printed maps of cities, and two 18th-century examples of the camera obscura, an optical device possibly used by the view painters.

Exhibition Support

Venice: Canaletto and His Rivals has been organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, the sole U.S. venue for the show, and the National Gallery, London, where it is on view through January 16, 2011.

The exhibition in Washington is made possible by the Bracco Foundation, which promotes cultural, scientific, and artistic expressions to improve the quality of life.

It is also made possible through the generous support of the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation.

Additional support is kindly provided by Sally Engelhard Pingree and The Charles Engelhard Foundation.

It is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

General Information

For additional press information please call or send inquiries to:
Department of Communications
National Gallery of Art
2000 South Club Drive
Landover, MD 20785
phone: (202) 842-6353
e-mail: [email protected]
Anabeth Guthrie
Chief of Communications
(202) 842-6804
[email protected]

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