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November 2013

After 270 years and for just 50 days Canaletto will be back where he painted one of his best known works L’entrata nel Canal Grande e la Basilica della Salute (Entrance to the Grand Canal and the Basilica of the Salute). More than an exhibition this is an emotional journey. To be savoured alone, by night and by day. A prestigious project realized by Fondaco in partnership with the Buziol Family.

This masterpiece from the great landscape artist is returning to the very place from which it was conceived and painted, the enchanting loggia where, using his camera obscura Canaletto traced the lines of the buildings that he brought to this famous canvas between 1740 and 1745. Buildings of unparalleled architectural magnificence including The Basilica of the Salute - a Baroque wonder of white marble created by Longhena as an offering for the city once yet another outbreak of plague had been banished from the city (Salute means health in Italian). Further on we see the Magazzini del Sale and the Punta della Dogana while on the other side of the Grand Canal rise the Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace) and the Riva degli Schiavoni.

All of this serves as a backdrop to a city teeming with life. There are noblemen and merchants on the steps of the Palazzo Ducale, boatmen and local gondoliers moored in front of the Basilica, sacks of salt, barrels of wine and bales of cotton being stored in the warehouses at the Punta della Dogana. The extraordinary daily life of a city filled with animation, still one of the world’s great capitals. The scene is illuminated by an azure sky which stretches over the sea and reflects in the turquoise water.

Canaletto is a master at solving the problem which has vexed so many landscape artists: how to encompass in a single view that which the eye cannot perceive. This work represents the apex of his magical ability. The composition is harmonious and balanced with an angle and composition that not even the most audacious of the Impressionists would have been able to match.

The painting’s first owner, Lady Lucas and Dingwall was enchanted by it. It was then purchased by Henry Grey, the Duke of Kent. In April 1970 it was bought by it’s current private owner at auction at Sotheby’s in London. Before coming back “home” for a short while, this wonderful Canaletto oil painting was shown in Madrid (Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum), Rome (Vittoriano), Milan (Palazzo Reale) and in Paris (Maillol Museum).

With techniques never used before in Europe a unique emotional experience will be created for visitors around this magnificent painting throughout the exhibition’s 50-day run. Visitors start by experiencing the incredible majesty of the medieval Abbazia di San Gregorio culminating with a visit to the splendid corner room with its unique view of the Basilica della Salute, the Grand Canal and the Bacino di San Marco. Open to the public for the first time in many years, this room will host the Canaletto in a simply unparalleled location offering visitors the opportunity to compare the painting with the view the artist used as inspiration.

The experience of entering this magnificent, austere place and feeling the silence in which generations of Benedictine monks prayed over almost seven centuries is, if possible, even more powerful by night. This is possible because the painting will be on display 24 hours a day to allow visitors to savour the painting for a full hour alone or with a few friends. A maximum of 8 visitors will be admitted each hour and advance booking is required and can be done online at

As part of this unique exhibition a video has also been produced to introduce the artist and the painting. A genuine piece of art-house cinema the video was made by Francesco Patierno.

Patierno alongside Tonino Zera have been tasked with creating the unique emotional exhibition experience. 

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