How Charles I lost his head over his lust for the world’s greatest art collection | The IndependentCharles 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 - Peter Humfrey (University of St Andrews)
Charles I: King and Collector
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.
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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. The exhibition starts with the fantastic triple portrait of Charles by Van Dyck, which is also the poster for the exhibition. The painting was for Bernini to sculpt a bust of Charles. The bust was lost in the great Whitehall fire of , when much of the Palace burnt down, and though many have berated Cromwell for selling off the collection, one wonders how much more would have been lost if they had still been in Whitehall. Other rooms in the exhibition include two of Italian Renaissance paintings, one of Northern Renaissance, and a room containing works that had originally been in the Queen's Hose at Greenwich.