Charles I: King and Collector
This is the catalogue of the show-stopping exhibition now on at the Royal Academy in Piccadilly. Charles I was an ardent collector, who travelled incognito to Spain as a young man and bought the extraordinary Gonzaga collection of art instead of paying court to a proposed wife… He continued collecting, building up one of the finest art collections in Europe, with a lot of exquisite Northern Renaissance paintings including many wondrous Holbeins, as well as outstanding Italian works by Titian and his ilk. Van Dyck, as court painter, produced canvas after canvas of the royal family. After the king’s execution his goods were seized and sold off by the Commonwealth, to consortiums of buyers hoping to make a quick buck, and to private individuals. Many of these works of art made their way overseas once again. His son Charles II, on his restoration to the throne, began a process of buying back what he could of his late father’s collection. As much as possible of Charles I’s original collection has been reassembled from the Royal Collection and from from museums on the continent for this extraordinary exhibition, and the catalogue is breath-taking.