Charles I (1)

Although I have been watching our Charles I exhibition come together and gradually be installed, it was only last night that I was able to see it in its full glory.

First thoughts.   I didn’t know the full scale of what has been lost.   For example, a bust of Bernini based on the great Van Dyck triple portrait which was lost in the 1698 Whitehall fire.   A Velázquez portrait which he commissioned when he visited Madrid in March 1623.

Second is the staggering quality and generosity of the loans from the Royal Collection. Of course, I know intellectually the quality of the Royal Collection from its published catalogues and exhibitions at the Queen’s Gallery, but even so, this did not prepare me for the number and range and scale of works lent, all of which were sold in 1649 and later recovered at the Restoration.

The third is the quality of the design, done immaculately by a French designer, Cécile Degos, using French paints.



6 thoughts on “Charles I (1)

  1. This will be THE exhibition of the year, and will establish Per Rumberg as an outstanding Curator.

    To have secured loans from the Prado, the Louvre and the Royal Collection is a major diplomatic achievement. Huge congratulations !

    And with Tim Knox about to move to the Royal Collection .. .. .. !

  2. Having just been through it, I confirm that it is a stunning exhibition on so many levels. It’s hard to believe that so many incredible works have been gathered for this from so many places. I confess one of my favourites is one of the smallest: the little grisaille Breughel from the Frick. It’s one of the paintings that I always spend time with whenever I visit that institution. What did it sell for in the Great Auction? £4?

  3. Congratulations on the Charles I exhibition, but, I wonder, is this yet another example of the use of art to try to rehabilitate an–at best–equivocal figure? I fear that this is the kind of exercise that gets art a bad name among historians, which is really too bad as I have no doubt that the works on view will be spectacular. But perhaps I underestimate the curator, and the show will end with a resounding demonstration of sic semper tyrannis.

  4. marinavaizey says:

    fascinated by the last comment; most of the art that has come down to us is inextricably intertwined with politics and power, and almost by definition not always in a ‘good’ way and much collecting even on the part of the modern state is done for extrinisic reasons. Collecting too capitalises on changes in fortune, political and otherwise: the Gonzaga collection was a source for Charles. Think of the opportunities British collectors capitalised on in the turmoil of the French Revolution. what about Czars, the Medici, not to mention Popes and Emperors etc and what about the financial resources in the 21st century of some leading collectors? Should Holbein the Younger have taken a moral stance re Henry VIII? Do we really think Charles I’s political behaviour and views about divine right are whitewashed in the 21st century because he patronised Van Dyck? The questions are endless.

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