Two exhibitions taking place in London this year offer a fascinating insight into the artistic legacies of King Charles I and his son, Charles II, the 17th century monarchs who greatly enriched the Royal Collection, establishing what is now ranked amongst the largest and most important in the world.

The show on Charles I is a once-in-a-lifetime blockbuster, reuniting a host of treasures he amassed and commissioned during his lifetime, many of which were sold off after his execution. The exhibition on Charles II tells the captivating and insightful story of the restoration of the monarchy, its power, glory – and its collections.

Charles I: King and Collector at the Royal Academy (opens 27 January, until 15 April 2018)

King Charles I amassed one of the most extraordinary art collections of his age, acquiring works by artists such as Titian, Mantegna, Holbein and Durer and commissioning leading contemporary artists including Van Dyck and Rubens. For him the collection was a palpable demonstration of his authority and power as well as the result of his private passion for art.  For the first time since the king’s death in 1649 when the collection was dispersed, it’s greatest masterpieces have been reunited in a breath-taking exhibition of classical sculptures, Baroque paintings, exquisite miniatures and monumental tapestries.  The show demonstrates the radical impact of his collection and how it changed the taste of the nation.

For further details click here

Charles II: Art and Power at The Queen’s Gallery (open until 13 May 2018).

1660 saw the restoration of the monarchy in England, as well as a resurgence of the arts. Charles II believed in the power of art to glorify the restored monarchy and reinforce his position as king, so he set about creating a centre for patronage of artists as well as collecting great art of the past.   This show reflects the riches of Charles II’s court and the role of the arts in the re-establishment of the Stuart monarchy.  Highlights include John Michael Wright’s monumental portrait of the king in his coronation robes, as well as drawings by Leonardo, Michelangelo and Holbein.

For further details click here

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