Special Attractions: Art, Museums, and Auctions

• Buckingham Palace, Queen Elizabeth II’s London home, is off-limits to outsiders, with one notable exception: the Queen’s Gallery. Here, a portion of what is undoubtedly the richest privately-owned collection in the world can be enjoyed by the public. On view now and into late 1981 is Her Majesty’s collection of works by Canaletto, the great eighteenth-century Italian artist. This exhibition marks the first time the entire group of forty-five paintings and sixtytwo drawings and etchings has been shown. The Canalettos, acquired by George III, are one of the glories of the splendid royal collection.

• If you’re interested in knowing more about Britain’s Festivals, the British Tourist Authority and the British Arts Festivals Association publish a useful booklet called “British Arts Festivals 1981.” It describes each festival, gives sources for further information, and lists provisional dates for 1982 events.

• Britain’s Royal Academy is planning an exhibition of Japanese art which will take place from October 1981 to February 1982. It will be the largest showing of Japanese art ever held in Europe, as well as one of the most important mounted by the Royal Academy. Never before have the Japanese allowed so many priceless objects— nearly 500—to be out of Japan for so long. The exhibition will cover the years from 1573—1868. Among the works on display will be paintings, prints, textiles, books, ceramics, armor, and lacquer, all of exceptional quality.

• If you like scrounging and searching for bargains and antiques and occasionally walking away triumphantly with a treasure, you’ll be intrigued by the Dorotheum in Vienna. Probably Europe’s most unusual auction house, as well as one of the world’s largest, the Dorotheum has been in existence for over 250 years. It is run by the government rather like a big pawn-broker shop, and you can find all sorts of goods on the auction block. There are old shoes, clothes, cooking utensils, marvelous works of art, splendid pieces of furniture, antique jewelry, porcelain, silver, coins, carpets, stamps, and even cars. Each item is evaluated by an expert, then tagged with its price and date of sale. If you can’t be there when your treasure is due to come under the hammer, you can, for a small fee, commission an official broker to bid on your behalf.

• Vienna is one of the richest museum cities in the world. One of its treasures is the Albertina, named after one of Maria Theresa’s sons-in-law. Devoted solely to graphics, it houses 40,000 drawings and one million etchings that are among the most beautiful to be found anywhere, with the works of, among others, Dürer, Michelangelo, da Vinci. Rembrandt, Picasso, Klimt, and Schiele. Because the collection is so vast and because drawings and etchings are sensitive to light, only a small part of the museum’s treasures is shown at any one time, but there’s a study room, open nearly every day, where you can look at things quietly.