The Ranelagh Rotunda



Exterior and interior views by Thomas Bowles, 1754.

This was one of the most popular places of entertainment in the 18th century. The Rotunda was vast and features included tiered boxes, a fireplace in the centre and an orchestra pit and the diameter was said to be greater than the Coliseum in Rome. Everyone in society from Princes downwards attended the lavish firework displays, the concerts and the infamous masked balls. Its popularity began to wane and the Gardens closed in 1803.


Interior view by Canaletto.

The inscription in Italian on the back of the original canvas states that the picture was painted in London in 1754 for the artist’s patron Thomas Hollis, and that the view was unique in the artist’s work. The Rotunda in Ranelagh Gardens, Chelsea, was erected as a public venue for various entertainments in 1741 and closed in 1803. Musical concerts were held and Mozart performed there in 1764.

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One thought on “The Ranelagh Rotunda”

  1. It is very interesting to see the views in this website. At the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Havana, there is a picture by Canaletto where the Rotunda can be seen, together with Ranelagh Gardens; it has been published.

    Thank you,

    Miguel Núñez
    Curator, British Painting
    Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes

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