Canaletto and the Art of Venice

Canaletto: View of the Salute

(Queen’s Gallery, London, until 12 November 2017)

In 1762, the young George III purchased en bloc the collection of Joseph Smith, the British consul in Venice. In doing so, he became at one stroke the owner of the greatest collection of Canaletto paintings and drawings in the world. These works have been in the Royal Collection ever since and now, gloriously, they’re brought together in a stunning exhibition at the Queen’s Gallery, offering an abundance of Venetian delights. All in all, if you have any fondness for Venetian splendour, you must not miss this show.

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In Fine Style: The Art of Tudor and Stuart Fashion

Elizabeth I as princess

(Queen’s Gallery, London, 10 May-6 October 2013)

Before we begin, let’s get one thing clear: if you have any interest in historical costume, the Tudor and Stuart courts, or textiles, then you absolutely must see this new exhibition at the Queen’s Gallery. It’s visually glorious, with a collection of splendid portraits from the Royal Collection displayed alongside surviving examples of costume from the period; and it’s also intellectually absorbing, because it takes very familiar images and, in switching the focus from the sitter to what they’re wearing, encourages you to think about portraits in an entirely new way.

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The Northern Renaissance: Dürer to Holbein

Holbein: William Reskimer

(Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, until 14 April 2013)

Back in 2008, the Queen’s Gallery put on the splendid exhibition The Art of Italy, in which the Royal Collection showed off its wealth of Renaissance and Baroque Italian paintings and drawings, assembled over four hundred years by an Italophile monarchy. It was the first exhibition I saw at the Gallery and I remember being amazed by the richness of the Collection’s holdings. The Northern Renaissance is the natural successor to that 2008 show and, while it includes some glorious objects, it is of necessity a more modest exhibition than its predecessor. It comprises 110 exhibits (compared to The Art of Italy‘s 153), of which 22 are prints rather than unique works and seven are arguably Italian rather than Northern.

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Leonardo da Vinci: Anatomist

Leonardo: Study of a skull

(The Queen’s Gallery, London, until 7 October 2012)

We’ve been well and truly spoiled for Leonardo this year and it’s only six months in.  There has been the blockbuster exhibition at the National Gallery, the exhibition in Turin at the same time, the Louvre’s show based around The Virgin and Child with St Anne, the touring exhibition of Leonardo’s drawings around Britain in celebration of Prince Charles’s 60th birthday, and now this show of his anatomical drawings at the Queen’s Gallery.

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