The Canaletto paintings

The Canaletto paintings

Image for 24 Canaletto Paintings One of the views of Venice by Canaletto

The largest private collection of Venetian Views by Canaletto on Public View

Lord John Russell (who became 4th Duke of Bedford in 1732) visited Venice while on his Grand Tour in 1731. He was with his younger sister, Elizabeth, Countess of Essex and her husband, William Capel, 3rd Earl of Essex. It is thought that Lord John met with Joseph Smith, Canaletto’s agent, and the paintings were subsequently commissioned. It was fashionable to order a set of views of the places visited on the Grand Tour as a souvenir of your visit.

24 paintings eventually arrived in England; and within the Abbey Archives we have three bills to Joseph Smith, dated 1733, 1735 and 1736, and totalling just over £188 (about £16,000 today). 

Image for 24 Canaletto Paintings The Dining Room

The Dining Room

Woburn Abbey houses the largest private collection of views of Venice by Canaletto, and 21 of the 24 paintings are displayed in the Dining Room. 

The pictures were first hung in Bedford House in London, until the house was demolished in 1800. Francis, 5th Duke of Bedford, had the West-facing windows in the Dining Room blocked in to enable all of the Canaletto paintings to be hung in one room and during the nineteenth century it was called the Venetian Drawing Room.

When, in 1955, the house was opened to the public, the 13th Duke had the West-facing windows unblocked to open up the view once more. Accordingly several of the pictures had to be moved. One of the large ones, Regatta on the Grand Canal, is now in the Blue Drawing Room, and two of the smaller ones are hanging over the doors in the Breakfast Room. 

Love this page?...share it with friends

Events & Exhibitions

Image for tri for life triathlon

tri for life triathlon

to
tri for life presents The Woburn Abbey Triathlon. One of the UK’s most loved triathlons, it has become famed for its iconic venue and unrivalled family experience.
Image for Housekeeper's Know-how

Housekeeper's Know-how

Ever wondered what it takes to preserve and care for a great stately home and its treasures? Join us as we begin our annual ‘deep-clean’ to find out more.
Image for 'Grow your own' masterclass with                                                            Pippa Greenwood

'Grow your own' masterclass with Pippa Greenwood

Learn how to 'Grow Your Own' from this well-known gardening expert.
Image for Spring and Easter Flowers with Jonathan Moseley

Spring and Easter Flowers with Jonathan Moseley

A masterclass in spring flower-arranging with floral expert, Jonathan Moseley.
Image for Spring Pruning Study Day

Spring Pruning Study Day

This session is designed to give you a wide range of pruning skills - you will get hands on with plant material in order to gain confidence in your own garden maintenance.
Image for Carriage Tours

Carriage Tours

to
An exciting experience back by popular demand, enjoy a tour in a private carriage around the grounds and gardens of Woburn Abbey.
Image for Twilight Parkland Tour - April

Twilight Parkland Tour - April

Experience the grounds of Woburn Abbey in a whole new light on this exclusive out-of-hours tour of the parkland and gardens.
Image for Carriage Tours  - May

Carriage Tours - May

to
An exciting experience back by popular demand, enjoy a tour in a private carriage around the grounds and gardens
Image for Treasures of the Library & Afternoon Tea

Treasures of the Library & Afternoon Tea

Enjoy a private view of some of the treasures housed within Woburn Abbey’s extensive library collection.
Image for Jonathan Moseley - Create a Cutting Garden Patch

Jonathan Moseley - Create a Cutting Garden Patch

Learn from the expert and create a colourful cutting patch at home.
Image for Twilight Parkland Tour - May

Twilight Parkland Tour - May

Experience the grounds of Woburn Abbey in a whole new light on this exclusive out-of-hours tour of the parkland and gardens.
Image for Carriage Tours  - June

Carriage Tours - June

to
An exciting experience back by popular demand, enjoy a tour in a private carriage around the grounds and gardens
Image for How to Run a Stately Home: Talk and Lunch

How to Run a Stately Home: Talk and Lunch

A pioneer of the country house business, the 13th Duke opened the Abbey to the public in 1955, learn more the trials and tribulations of opening a great house.
Image for Garden Show  - VIP Packages

Garden Show - VIP Packages

to
We invite you to enjoy a very special day out at the Woburn Abbey Garden Show with our exclusive VIP packages.
Image for Woburn Abbey Garden Show 2018

Woburn Abbey Garden Show 2018

to
After the huge success of the last Garden Show this June we are pleased to announce that tickets can now be purchased for the 9th Woburn Abbey Garden Show taking place on 23rd and 24th June 2018.
Image for Flower Painting Study Day

Flower Painting Study Day

Join us for a day of flower painting as we turn one of the rooms in the Historic North Court of Woburn Abbey into an art studio for the day.
Image for Rose Study Day

Rose Study Day

Studying and appreciation of roses with David Austin’s Rosarian Michael Marriott
Image for Twilight Parkland Tour - July

Twilight Parkland Tour - July

Experience the grounds of Woburn Abbey in a whole new light on this exclusive out-of-hours tour of the parkland and gardens.
Image for Twilight Parkland Tour - July

Twilight Parkland Tour - July

Experience the grounds of Woburn Abbey in a whole new light on this exclusive out-of-hours tour of the parkland and gardens.
Image for Carriage Tours - July

Carriage Tours - July

to
An exciting experience back by popular demand, enjoy a tour in a private carriage around the grounds and gardens
Image for Bee Walk

Bee Walk

Discover the importance of attracting bees to your garden and, more importantly, how to attract them.
Image for Twilight Parkland Tour

Twilight Parkland Tour

Experience the grounds of Woburn Abbey in a whole new light on this exclusive out-of-hours tour of the parkland and gardens.
Image for Brunch with Queen Victoria

Brunch with Queen Victoria

Follow in the footsteps of the Queen and her 1841 visit to Woburn Abbey. Enjoy a delicious lunch in the Duchess' Tearoom followed by an in-depth talk with time to explore the Abbey at your leisure.
Image for Buterfly and Bugs Walk

Buterfly and Bugs Walk

Discover the beautiful butterflies to be found in the Abbey Gardens and find out how you can attract more species to your own garden, during this guided walk.
Image for Carriage Tours - August

Carriage Tours - August

to
An exciting experience back by popular demand, enjoy a tour in a private carriage around the grounds and gardens
Image for Bat Walks

Bat Walks

Take an exclusive tour of the Woburn Abbey Gardens at night and learn about the nocturnal activities of the bats living in the gardens.
Image for Life in a Noble Household

Life in a Noble Household

Discover what it was like to work in a great Ducal household from the 17th to the 20th centuries.
Image for Bat Walks

Bat Walks

Take an exclusive tour of the Woburn Abbey Gardens at night and learn about the nocturnal activities of the bats living in the gardens.
Image for Treasures of the Library & Afternoon Tea

Treasures of the Library & Afternoon Tea

Enjoy a private view of some of the treasures housed within Woburn Abbey’s extensive library collection.
Image for Brunch with Queen Victoria

Brunch with Queen Victoria

Follow in the footsteps of the Queen and her 1841 visit to Woburn Abbey. Enjoy a delicious lunch in the Duchess' Tearoom followed by an in-depth talk with time to explore the Abbey at your leisure.
Image for Housekeeper's Know-how

Housekeeper's Know-how

Ever wondered what it takes to preserve and care for a great stately home and its treasures? Join us as we begin our annual ‘deep-clean’ to find out more.
Image for Christmas Flowers with Jonathan Moseley

Christmas Flowers with Jonathan Moseley

A masterclass in Christmas flower-arranging with floral expert, Jonathan Moseley.