Mr B. George Balanchine's Twentieth Century
'So wonderful and glorious a collection, that the like will never again be met with'. This is how one awed and wistful observer described King Charles's artworks. During his reign, Charles I assembled an array of paintings by Europe’s great masters that lays claim to being the finest private art collection ever to exist.
After his death, the collection was sold off to raise money for Cromwell’s new regime, resulting in a world where diplomats doubled as art dealers, and ordinary working people (including the King’s plumber) became owners of priceless works of art. This is a vivid portrait of a tragic king and his decadent court, set against the backdrop of political conflict and civil war, which also offers a new and compelling perspective on art and the evolution of collecting in England.
Jerry Brotton is Senior Lecturer in Renaissance Studies at Queen Mary, University of London. He is the author of several books, including the highly acclaimed The Renaissance Bazaar. He is a regular reviewer and broadcaster, appearing in the BBC documentary, Leonardo, and in The Medici on Channel 4.