Charles I King & Collector Exhibition at the Royal AcademyCharles I is the only monarch to have been declared a martyr by the Church of England. This mystical yet subversive tract, perhaps the first instant book, went through scores of editions. Only a propagandist of genius could have turned his sovereign into a saint. Yet Charles is remembered as the most elegant of English kings, thanks to the gorgeous portraits of him, Queen Henrietta Maria and their court painted by his favourite artist, Sir Anthony van Dyck. He was the most talented collector of art ever to have occupied the throne. Charles first encountered great European art as Prince of Wales on his visit to Madrid with the Duke of Buckingham, where he bought Titians and Raphaels.
Charles I: King and Collector
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Thank you so much for this post and, especially, the links - I have enjoyed following them. Many are back in the Royal Collection, but other have been borrowed from museums across the world. As an interesting side note the catalogue of the collection, taken in , still exists and many of the items have a comment saying where the painting was originally displayed.
Early and late Renaissance art, Baroque art, portraits, allegories, Roman art, statues and medallions, tapestries, beautiful pictures of the king and his family — these works were amassed over a period of nearly 25 years, from the moment Charles was crowned in to his execution in Agents did all the work, something like modern dealers, part hustler and part connoisseur, always a bit doubtful if they would ever be paid. Charles is the focus either directly or indirectly. This multi-part Renaissance masterpiece consists of nine enormous canvases that depict a victory procession culminating in a scene of chariots and elephants. Charles acquired it as part of a job lot from the House of Gonzaga in Lombardy. It was a last-minute addition and he had no idea it was coming. He commissioned fabulously luxurious tapestries from a tapestry factory he started-up himself at Mortlake, then just outside London.
The rest is history. Great leaders like to demonstrate their power. These days, it tends to be shows of military might and grand parades of state of the art weaponry. But behind the austere painted faces of the king and court, there is another story to be told. Reuniting works for the first time in years, it captures a singular moment in British history — as an unscrupulous king created arguably the most impressive art collection in the world, while ostracising his parliament and people and catapulting himself on to the scaffold. He was descended from the Bourbons through his mother, his court spoke in French, he was determined to create a unity between his three kingdoms of Scotland, England and Ireland and to marry his children into powerful courts of Europe. England could now reap the rewards of the freedom of movement artists had enjoyed on the continent for generations.