One of the greatest art collections of all time has been reunited in a spectacular London exhibition: Charles I King and Collector at the Royal Academy, Piccadilly.
When this collection was created in the early seventeenth century, it was totally awe-inspiring, and aroused envy throughout Europe. King Charles I was an art collector, he admired beautiful art and was determined to create a stunning collection which would rival all others. There were old master paintings, classical sculptures, miniatures and tapestries sourced from Van Dyke, Holbein, Durer, Titian, Rubens and many more. The collection did not stay together for long. Within years, Charles I had fallen from power and been executed. His collection was dispersed, and many of the works of art formed the core of what became the Louvre and Prado museums.
For the first time since the seventeenth century, over 100 of these spectacular works of art have been reunited in this very special Royal Academy exhibition which can be visited until mid April, 2018 while a resident at hotels near Wembley Stadium.
After seeing this exhibition, why not stroll across Green Park to see what happened next. At the Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace there is an equally fascinating exhibition looking at the art collection of Charles I’s son – Charles II. After over twenty years in exile, Charles II was invited back to rule as King. Almost immediately after his coronation, he began the process of trying to rebuild the collection amassed by his father buying back as many of the works of art as possible. He also added to that collection, commissioning works by leading artists of the day. His work formed the basis of the monumental Royal Collection.
The exhibition, Charles II Art and Power, can be seen at The Queen’s Gallery until May, 2018. It is positively breathtaking and is accessible from hotels in North London. On display are old master paintings such as Brueghel’s Massacre of the Innocents, a portrait of King Charles II in his coronation robes, spectacular silver gilt furniture, tapestries and plate that has adorned the high altar of Westminster Abbey. Charles II was determined to stress the importance, and power of the King. Art was a brilliant way of doing so.
It is not just in the Royal Collection that the impact of these two Kings can be seen. Just down the road in Whitehall, the Banqueting House is well worth visiting. Built on the orders of Charles I, it is an architectural masterpiece with stunning ceilings by Rubens. It was here that Charles I was executed.
Book a stay at Best Western Palm Hotel and head over to the City of London and the Wren churches such as St Paul’s Cathedral for more evidence of the artistic interest of King Charles II. During his reign, the Great Fire of London destroyed much of the city – a fire that the King actually fought alongside his people. Afterwards, he supported Sir Christopher Wren in organizing the rebuilding of the City.