3 January 2019

Charles II: Art & Power @ The Queen's Gallery

Portraits at the Charles II: Art & Power exhibition

There have been a few fine 17th century exhibitions in London over the past few years: Peter Lely at the Courtauld, the fantastic In Fine Style: The Art of Tudor and Stuart Fashion at the Queen's Gallery, The Lost Prince: Henry Stuart at the NPG and the William Dobson 400th anniversary celebration at Somerset House.

Another two were running simultaneously in the capital last year: Charles I, King and Collector at the Royal Academy, and Charles II: Art and Power at the Queen's Gallery. Shamefully I missed the Royal Academy show (though it did get mixed reviews), but did manage to make it along to the Charles II exhibition, which was excellent. Here are some pics ... 


Portrait of Charles I at his trial.


Engravings of Charles II and contemporaneous copies. Always struck by the fine detail.

Portraits of wives mistresses and statesmen (Prince Rupert, top-left)

John Michael Wright’s portrait showing Charles dressed in Parliament robes over the Order of the Garter costume, wearing the Crown of State, the Sword of State and the Garter Collar with the Great George, and holding the new Orb and Sceptre made for his coronation

More from the portrait room.

Holbein sketches. 


Books from the king's personal collection.


Furniture once owned by Henrietta Maria.

Love the drama in this picture!

Pieter Bruegel the Elder's The Massacre of the Innocents, c.1565–7.


The Misers (follower of Marinus van Reymerswaele,1548-51). Like many of the pictures in the exhibition, Charles II inherited the work from his father. It's fascinating to track the ownership of these paintings over the centuries, particularly seeing how they survived the turbulence of civil war and restoration.


I also picked up the excellent catalogue, which is still available from the Royal Collection shop. These are always sumptuously produced, and worth buying on your visit as they increase in price considerably when out of print.

The exhibition has now moved to the Palace of Holyrood in Edinburgh.

Charles II: Art and Power

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