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Canaletto: The Art of Venice

Directed by Australia’s David Bickerstaff

Embark on a 21st century Grand Tour, from the Rialto Bridge to the Piazza San Marco, the Palazzo Ducale, and the Church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo, exploring the city of Venice through the eyes and work of the city’s most famous painter. With exclusive behind the scenes access to the major 2017 exhibition Canaletto & the Art of Venice at London’s Buckingham Palace, you’ll also discover the intriguing tale of how Canaletto’s works were acquired for Britain’s The Royal Collection; and came to hold pride of place in the Queen’s own Picture Gallery.

Exhibition on Screen are excited to announce an encore Australian release of their acclaimed 2017 documentary Canaletto & the Art of Venice, in cinemas across the country from Thursday July 14.  An immersive journey into the life and art of Venice’s most famous painter, this stunning documentary also offers privileged behind the scenes access to Britain’s The Royal Collection, in which the largest holding of Canaletto’s works resides today.

Just how these paintings ended up in England rather than Canaletto’s native Italy is a fascinating story, transporting the viewer back in time to the 18th Century and introducing the powerful individuals who shaped history by promoting and facilitating the educational “rite of passage” of many a young European aristocrat, known at the time as “The Grand Tour”. No artist in history has better captured the essence and allure of Italy’s most picturesque city, than Venice-born Giovanni Antonio Canal, better known as Canaletto. Highly sought after by the Grand Tourists of the era, his view paintings have long been celebrated, both for their beauty and for the artist’s unique eye.

Whilst appearing as faithful representations of his native city, Canaletto’s great skill was in the manipulation of reality. His playful imagination made him a master of the artistic genre of ‘capriccio’ – in which buildings and other architectural elements are painted in fictional and often fantastical combinations. In this sense, Canaletto is much more than a topographical artist – he is a master storyteller, freely moving buildings and opening vistas to create the perfect compositions; and adding picturesque details of everyday life to evoke a uniquely Venetian atmosphere. With unique access to the Royal Collection’s exceptional holdings of Canaletto’s work – comprising more than 200 paintings, drawings and prints, Canaletto & the Art of Venice provides an unparalleled insight into his artistry and the city he became a master at capturing.

The film also offers the chance to step inside two official royal residences – Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle – to learn more about the artist, and Joseph Smith, the man who introduced Canaletto to Britain. Audiences will also embark on their very own 21st century Grand Tour, visiting the sites enjoyed by their 18th century counterparts and immortalised in Canaletto’s views.

Guided by Royal Collection Trust curators and the world’s leading experts in Venetian history, the film is not only a wonderful way to see the exhibition, but an opportunity to get closer to Canaletto and the city that inspired him.

Canaletto: The Art of Venice opens in cinemas across Australia on Thursday July 14, 2022.

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