300 years ago, a British king wanted an art collection to rival all others – and his selection of art works was incredible. Now much of that collection has been reunited for the first time, allowing visitors to discover the cultural ambitions of two kings – Charles I and his son Charles II. It is also a tale of power and prestige, of the fall and rise of kings.
Charles I King and Collector is a truly landmark exhibition which can be found at the Royal Academy in Piccadilly until 15th April, 2018 and is easily accessible from holiday apartments London. Charles I aimed to create an art collection to rival all others. He purchased works by top artists including Titian, Holbein and Durer and commissioned many others such as works by Rubens and Van Dyck. His collection did not stop there – he also amassed a stunning selection of exquisite miniatures, monumental tapestries and classical sculptures. Sadly, this collection did not stay together for long. Within a few years, it had been dispersed with many items forming the basis for museums like The Louvre and The Prado. Charles I fell from power, having come into conflict with Parliament resulting in a civil war, and his eventual execution.
The Royal Academy’s exhibition is the first time over 100 items, representing the cream of Charles I’s collection have been brought together in 300 years.
Not far away at the Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace it is possible to discover what happened after Charles’ execution. His son, Charles II went into exile, until invited back to take up the crown in 1660. Charles II was determined to recreate as much as possible of his father’s collection, and re-purchased as many items as he could. He also added to it. Throughout his reign, he became a renowned patron of artists, glorifying the monarchy and the power of the king. The exhibition: Charles II Art and Power, contains a spectacular display of old master paintings, silver gilt furniture, tapestries and a portrait of the King in his coronation robes.
You only have to look around London to see the impact of these two kings.
Much of the centre of the City of London was rebuilt following the Great Fire of London, on the orders of Charles II who supported the work of Sir Christopher Wren, architect of St Paul’s Cathedral.
Book an accommodation at Presidential Marylebone Mayfair and stroll down Whitehall to visit the Banqueting House which has the most incredible ceilings decorated with paintings by Rubens. Built on the orders of Charles I, it was also where he was tried and executed. Under Charles II, it became a centre for court masques, dinners and entertainment.
In addition, you can book a stay at serviced apartments Central London that is a safe walking distance from most of the places you want to visit.