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. 

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Events & Exhibitions

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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.
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The Woburn Estate Wedding Fair

Visit a wide variety of pop up wedding shops in the period Antique Quarter of Woburn Abbey's Sculpture Gallery.
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Carriage Tours October

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SOLD OUT - This event is now sold out but please register your interest to allow us to inform you when new dates available.
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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.
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War Notes from Woburn: Remembrance Sunday

The Sculpture Gallery is delighted to welcome back Lili la Scala this Remembrance Sunday, performing a poignant blend of vintage songs while guests enjoy a traditional two course Sunday lunch.
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A Touch of West End

Woburn's Sculpture Gallery is delighted to welcome back A Touch of West End this December for a fabulous evening of fine dining and musical entertainment.
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New Year's Eve at Woburn

New Year’s Eve is a time for celebration and at The Sculpture Gallery we believe in welcoming the coming year with style and sophistication. Join us this New Year’s Eve at The Sculpture Gallery for an exclusive evening with our five piece band Blue Rinse and see in 2018 with style.
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Carriage Tours April

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An exciting experience back by popular demand, enjoy a tour in a historic Landau Carriage around the grounds and gardens
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Carriage Tours May

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An exciting experience back by popular demand, enjoy a tour in a historic Landau Carriage around the grounds and gardens
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Carriage Tours June

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An exciting experience back by popular demand, enjoy a tour in a historic Landau Carriage around the grounds and gardens
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Woburn Abbey Garden Show 2018

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After the huge success of the 2017 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. Set against the stunning backdrop of Woburn Abbey, ‘The Gardener’s Garden Show’ offers visitors one of the best location of any show in the UK, taking place within the 42 acres of Abbey Gardens.
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Carriage Tours July

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An exciting experience back by popular demand, enjoy a tour in a historic Landau Carriage around the grounds and gardens
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Carriage Tours August

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An exciting experience back by popular demand, enjoy a tour in a historic Landau Carriage around the grounds and gardens