Charles I vs Charles II Art Collection  

The RAA is hosting the first exhibition of Charles I art collection, and by sheer luck, his son’s collection was showing at the Queen’s gallery.

I wanted to see Charles I exhibition first although that meant not seeing the Charles II exhibition until a month after launch – due to how it overlapped.

So, I was biting at the bite to see the Charles I exhibition as he was (arguably) the first king patron of art in this country (before the British monarchy was seen as philistines). It was a real gem – I urge you to go. Charles I amassed an amazing treasure – the largest art collection by a British monarch. Now priceless. We are the first generation in nearly 300 years to be able to appreciate this collection.

You have his art promoting father, as well as his stint in the Hapsburg Court, to blame/reward his obsession (and it really was an obsession) of art. The Hapsburg Rule arguably helped cause the downfall of Charles I as he saw absolute rule, and how the Hapsburg’s having to report to no one – unlike the much more democratic England.

The RAA hosts tapestry’s, sculptures and incredible paintings from Rubins, Titian, Van Dyke. In fact, Rubins was a favourite of Charles I was knighted by the king  to show his love. The trial of Caesar was a 9 piece art piece showing the victory of Caesar.

My favourite exhibition in the last 12 months.

Charles II exhibition is less focused on his art collection, focusing more on the reinstatement of the monarchy and the future monarchy. I think it should have been more focused. One section was about his father, the next about his grandson, the next about the fire of London. It was not all about art, lots of maps, family trees and newly created ornaments.

The highlights were the oil paintings in the main room, he had oil paintings done of his favourite mistresses as well as his confidantes and wife. The exhibition says little to nothing about his wife, Catherine of Braganza, a question that is left hanging to all that attend the exhibition I think. I was fortunate to listen to a talk (held daily) on his wife, and was told that she was very submissive and so was loved as the loyal underdog.  I think they missed a trick not focusing on her a little more.

What I did love about Charles II, after seeing the RAA exhibition, was that I had a true understanding the loss we as a kingdom had. We lost so so much art, culture and heritage. But the resilience son understood the need to not be too extravagant too quickly. Many countries and dignitaries gave art to Charles II to help rebuild the collection – and obviously get (back) in favour.

Go if you want to know more about the reformation itself.

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