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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Actuaries at the palace


On 30 October, a party from the Worshipful Company of Actuaries made a private visit to the Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace.

The current exhibition is centred on Canaletto and the Art of Venice and is open to the public, but on this occasion special arrangements were made for a private viewing after normal hours. Before viewing some of the best-known pieces of artwork by a number of Venetian artists, Lucy Whitaker, senior curator of paintings at the gallery, gave a presentation to explain the background and idiosyncrasies of Canaletto’s work.

The group of 46 liverymen and guests demonstrated a wide spread of knowledge of classical art, ranging from the committed enthusiast to the novice. There was something to hold everybody’s interest, including the extraordinary physical quality of the works, the intricacy and detail of unimaginably fine lines in pen and ink portraits (which could easily have been mistaken for photographs), and the explanations of how Canaletto changed the dimensions and proportions of some of the best-known buildings in Venice to “make his paintings look more balanced”. In one of his works he even included a fictitious addition of an extremely large bridge with an impressively imposing superstructure, much to the disappointment of many who visit Venice to view the real thing, only to discover that the bridge does not actually exist. In our actuarial world, they call it due diligence!

Altogether, an unforgettable evening, rounded off with a pleasant supper at a nearby eatery.