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  • If I could go on holiday in any National Gallery painting, I would pick

  • Canaletto's 'A Regatta on the Grand Canal' of about 1740,

  • because who could resist this vast expanse of sky,

  • the twinkling water, and all the gorgeous Venetian architecture. What's more, this looks

  • to me like a really fun day to be visiting Venice. The scene we are looking at takes

  • place during the annual carnival regatta. Venice has long been celebrated for its carnival

  • antics, and you can see that some of the spectators are wearing the traditional carnival outfit

  • of the white mask and black cape. What we're looking at here is a race of light, one-oared

  • gondolas making their way up the Grand Canal. You can see them making their way up the centre

  • of the picture. But in a way, these competitors and their tiny crafts get rather overshadowed

  • by all the pomp and celebration and festivity going on around them. We can see enormous,

  • elaborately decorated gondolas, complete with cherubs, gods, and palm fronds. Every window

  • seems to have a flag hanging from it, and people peering out desperate to see the race

  • going on below. So to me this seems like a great time to be visiting Venice, to be out

  • on the water, in a carnival costume, and if it all gets too much you can just lie back

  • and watch the fun from your own private gondola.

If I could go on holiday in any National Gallery painting, I would pick

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