Venice in Peril

Ashley Clarke Memorial Lecture

‘More willing to dazzle than to affect’:
Venice and the Royal Collection

Desmond Shawe-Taylor
Former Surveyor of the Queen’s Pictures, Royal Collection Trust

Monday 11 November 2024

Lecture and Drinks Reception 6.30-8pm

Tickets £30 to include drinks reception

At The Society of Antiquaries
Burlington House
London W1J 0BE


From Bellini to Canaletto, the Royal Collection has one of the world’s most important holdings of Venetian painting, even allowing for the many masterpieces of Titian and Tintoretto sold during the Commonwealth. In this year’s Ashley Clarke Memorial Lecture, Desmond Shawe-Taylor, former Surveyor of the Queen’s Pictures, will explore the acquisition of Venetian painting by Charles I, Charles II and George III with Reynolds’ adverse judgement (quoted above) in mind. Did these monarchs consider Venetian painting to be of an ‘inferior class’, and, if so, how did it influence their display? Is there anything in the reception of Venetian painting which helps us to understand what ‘dazzling’ means in practice? It will suggest ways in which Venetian painting offered a constructive alternative aesthetic to ‘Raphaelism’.


Desmond Shawe-Taylor was Surveyor of The Queen’s Pictures from 2005 until his retirement in 2021; before this, he was Director of Dulwich Picture Gallery. As well as publishing extensively, he has been responsible for many exhibitions, in the Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace and elsewhere. In 2018 he co-curated the award-winning exhibition ‘Charles I: King and Collector’ at the Royal Academy.

All proceeds from this event will go directly towards the vital conservation work of Venice in Peril