The Holburne Museum

See Venice through the eyes of Canaletto as the Holburne reopens on May 17th

Our Shop and Garden Cafe reopen on 12 April

Canaletto Painting Venice

17 May – 5 September 2021

In 2021, the Holburne Museum in Bath will present the most important set of paintings of Venice by Canaletto (1697 – 1768), which will leave their home at Woburn Abbey – one of world’s most important private art collections – for the first time in more than 70 years.

This once in a lifetime exhibition will enable art lovers to enjoy and study up-close twenty-three beautiful paintings, in a fascinating exhibition that also explores Canaletto’s life and work, alongside themes of 18th-century Venice and the Grand Tour.

This is one of the rare occasions that any of the successive Dukes of Bedford and Trustees of the Bedford Estates have lent the set of paintings since they arrived in Britain from Canaletto in the 1730s.

“Woburn Abbey is currently undergoing its biggest refurbishment since it first opened to the public in 1955. The renovations have therefore provided an ideal opportunity for The Duke and Duchess of Bedford generously to share a selection of Woburn’s greatest treasures with a wider audience, so they can be enjoyed in a different context with new narratives,” explains the Holburne’s Director, Chris Stephens.

“We are honoured that this wonderful, unrivalled set of Canaletto paintings will come to the Holburne, the perfect setting for visitors to study the paintings closely in way that has never been possible before. It is very exciting to think that they are leaving the dining room in Woburn Abbey for the first time in more than 70 years.”

John Russell, the 4th Duke of Bedford, who commissioned the collection

Metalwork bag, Mosul, Northern Iraq 1300 – 1330. Brass with silver and gold inlay. The Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld Gallery, London 

Precious and Rare:

Islamic Metalwork from The Courtauld  

from 17th May 2021 

This exhibition showcases ten highlights from The Courtauld’s world-class collection of mediaeval Islamic metalwork. Dating from the 13th to the 16th centuries, this exceptional group of objects include some of the finest examples of this intricate craft from the Middle East. 


The most spectacular piece in the show is the Courtauld Bag (right), made in Mosul (present-day northern Iraq) in around 1300-1330 for a noble lady of the Persian-Mongol court. It is recognised as one of the finest pieces of Islamic inlaid metalwork in existence and the only surviving object of its kind.  


The display will also include two Venetian artefacts, a dish with arms of either the Giustiniani or Sagredo family (c. 1530– 50) and a pair of candlesticks (early 16th century), exploring the role of Venice as a pivotal juncture between the East and West. Precious and Rare will complement and run concurrently with the Holburne’s stunning Canaletto exhibition.