Charles I: King and Collector

Royal Academy of Arts

27 January – 15 April 2018

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This landmark exhibition reunites the unrivalled art collection of Charles I for the first time since the 17th century.

Anthony van Dyck, Charles I, 1635-6

Inspired by the Habsburg collection while visiting the Spanish court in 1623, Charles I became a passionate connoisseur of art, acquiring and commissioning around 1500 paintings and 500 sculptures over the course of his reign. He created an unprecedented collection of masterpieces from the 15th to the 17th centuries, including artists such as Van Dyck, Titian and Holbein, and redefined how art in England was appreciated.

In 1649, he was executed for high treason. The collection was quickly broken up to be sold across Europe, and today many works are on display in the Musée du Louvre and the Museo Nacional del Prado. This major new exhibition reunites 150 pieces, drawn together from a large number of public, private and royal collections.

Anthony van Dyck was appointed Principalle Paynter in Ordenarie to their Majesties in 1632, and his portrait of Charles I, Le Roi à la chasse (c1635), returns to England for the first time since the king’s death. It is displayed alongside the artist’s other portraits of the royal family, including his first commission, Charles I and Henrietta Maria with Prince Charles and Princess Mary (1632).

Further highlights include Rubens’ Minerva Protects Pax from Mars (1629-30), his Landscape with Saint George and the Dragon (1630-50), and Van Dyck’s Cupid and Psyche (1639-40). The Renaissance is stunningly represented with Andrea Mantegna’s series, The Triumph of Caesar (c1484-92), Titian’s Supper at Emmaus (1530), and works by Correggio, Tintoretto and Dürer, among others. The exceptional Mortlake tapestries of Raphael’s Acts of the Apostles (1631-40) are also on display, and works by artists under the patronage of Queen Henrietta Maria such as Orazio Gentileschi and Guido Reni.

Venue information

Opening times

Mon – Thu, Sat – Sun, 10am – 6pm
Fri, 10am – 10pm

Closed 23 Jun, 24 – 26 Dec

"Art Fund" is the operating name of the National Art Collections Fund, a charity registered in England and Wales (209174) and Scotland (SC038331)