charles I: the collector king

Artslead27jan18Martin Gayford at The Spectator:

Peter Paul Rubens thought highly of Charles I’s art collection. ‘When it comes to fine pictures by the hands of first-class masters,’ he wrote from London in 1629, ‘I have never seen such a large number in one place.’ In Charles I: King and Collector the Royal Academy has reassembled only a fraction of what the king once owned, yet even so this is a sumptuous feast of an exhibition. Some of what’s on show will be familiar to an assiduous British art-lover, since it comes from the Royal Collection and the National Gallery. But the sheer concentration of visual splendour is overwhelming and the installation spectacular.

The Renaissance, like spring, came late to northern Europe — and last of all to distant Britain. But in painting and architecture, it flowered briefly at the Stuart court. Charles persuaded two of the foremost living painters — Rubens and Van Dyck — to work for him and amassed the works of the great dead in enormous qualities: Raphaels, a small Michelangelo marble, Correggios, Veroneses, Tintorettos, Guido Renis and —above all — multitudes by Titian, the king’s favourite painter (and who can blame him).

more here.