Canaletto’s much acclaimed masterpiece A Regatta on the Grand Canal will be on display at Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens until Sunday 13 Sept

VISITOR NUMBERS at Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens have increased by around 20 per cent thanks to the visit of one of the world’s most famous paintings this summer.

Over 92,000 people visited the venue while the Canaletto masterpiece “A Regatta on the Grand Canal” was on loan from the National Gallery in London. The numbers coming through the doors at the city centre venue were up almost 14,000 on the same period last year.

The Sunderland venue was one of only three in the country to host the painting, which dates to around 1740. The exhibition, which closed on September 13, is the latest in a string of hugely popular touring works to have visited Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens. Previous events have included the Grayson Perry tapestries, Victoria & Albert Museum ‘War Games’, and the National Portrait Gallery’s BP Portrait Award. This weekend sees the start of the Picture the Poet exhibition from the National Portrait Gallery, which runs until Sunday 29 October.

Sunderland City Council portfolio holder for Public Health, Wellness and Culture, Councillor John Kelly, said: “The figures speak for themselves really. Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens continues to be a huge cultural attraction in our city centre. The support it receives from visitors gives us ever more opportunities to host hugely important works like the Canaletto masterpiece.

“The attraction of art should not be underestimated as events like this make a huge contribution to the city, its reputation and its economy. Over 92,000 visitors to the exhibition means over 92,000 visitors to our city centre, spending time and money here, supporting local businesses.

Depicting a gondola race during an annual carnival in Venice, the highly detailed painting is held as one of the finest works by the artist. Canaletto, full name Giovanni Antonio Canal, was a Venetian born artist who was popular amongst English art collectors and was a regular visitor to Britain. He is considered to have had a significant influence on British art of the 18th Century.

The Masterpiece Tour is part of the National Gallery’s commitment to promote the understanding, knowledge and appreciation of Old Master paintings to as wide an audience as possible. This opportunity to bring hugely popular National Gallery paintings to the public’s doorstep is being made possible by the generous support of Christie’s.