King Charles I: Art Collector Extraordinaire

King Charles I ruled England for 24 years before he was executed in 1649. During his reign he amassed a collection of over 2,000 works of art.

Portrait of King Charles I of England by Anthony van Dyck

His hoard included classical sculptures, oil on canvas portraits, enormous tapestries, and delicate miniatures. Charles even augmented the collection by commissioning artist Anthony van Dyck to paint a series of very flattering portraits of himself. This tri-view portrait of Charles I is just one example:

His discerning eye and royal patronage fostered a new and exciting culture of art and expression in England. But when Charles was executed in 1649, his massive collection was sold off, with individual pieces scattering across Europe’s museums and even some private homes.

This year the Royal Academy of Arts will reunite some of the legendary masterpieces of Charles’ magnificent collection in one exhibit.

The exhibition, titled Charles I: King and Collector embodies everything I love in a museum offering:

  • It has small pieces that invite you to stand close and drink in each delicate detail.
  • It has large pieces that demand you stand back in order to admire the whole.
  • It has that overall aura of royalty about it, and I love anything related to English royalty.

Unfortunately, I live on the wrong side the Atlantic, so I won’t be able to see the exhibit in London. I’m keeping my fingers crossed, though, that the collection will go on tour in the U.S. sometime soon.

Charles I: King and Collector opens January 27 at the Royal Academy of Arts in London and runs until April 15. You can find out more about the exhibit on the Royal Academy’s website here.

 

 

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