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.