The King's Pictures


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The Formation and Dispersal of the Collections of Charles I and His Courtiers

Francis Haskell; With a foreword by Nicholas Penny; Edited and with an introduction by Karen Serres

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The greatest paintings in today’s most famous museums were once part of a fluid exchange determined by volatile political fortunes. In the first half of the 17th century, masterpieces by Titian, Raphael, and Leonardo, among others, were the objects of fervent pursuit by art connoisseurs. Francis Haskell traces the fate of collections extracted from Italy, Spain, and France by King Charles I and his circle, which, after a brief stay in Britain, were largely dispersed after the Civil War to princely galleries across the Continent. From vivid case studies of individual collectors, advisers, and artists, and acute analysis of personality and motive, Haskell challenges ideas about this episode in British cultural life and traces some of the factors that forever changed the artistic map of Europe.

Published for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art

Francis Haskell (1928–2000) was one of the most influential art historians of the 20th century. He expanded the discipline to include the study of patronage and collecting, the formation of museums and canons of taste, the idea of revival and of illustration. He was professor of art history at the University of Oxford from 1967 until his retirement in 1995.

“A fascinating study of how the cultural map of the 17th century responded to geopolitical rupture.”—Apollo

 “The King's Pictures. . . gives an account of its subject that is both deeply learned and page-turningly absorbing.”—David Ekserdjian, Financial Times
“In The King’s Pictures by Francis Haskell, the whole fascinating...story is retold by a master art historian.”—Frank Whitford, The Sunday Times
“A connoisseur’s volume: the story of the European dispersal of Charles I’s incomparable Old Master collection – Titian, Raphael, Leonardo – in exchanges determined by volatile political fortunes. Haskell was a pioneer who expanded art history to include patronage and collecting. This study, in his usual lively, engaging style, appears posthumously.”—Financial Times

"Well worth waiting for, it is a characteristically masterly examination of one of the most compelling chapters in the entire history of art collecting, the first and tragically short-lived flowering of the British taste for contemporary and earlier art from overseas."—David Ekserdjian, The Spectator

“[T]he book is fulsomely illustrated, making it a pleasure to view as well as read.”—Robert O’Bryne, Apollo Magazine

“Frances Haskell’s research on Charles I’s collection. . .appears now for the first time in a brisk, urbane and prodigiously illustrated volume that comes as close as possible in two dimensions to re-creating the sumptuousness of the Caroline Court. . .The King’s Pictures is a finely wrought composition – rich in detail and full of sharply drawn profiles of strutting aristocrats and shady dealers.”—David Gelber, Country Life

“Lively and intelligent”—Charles Hope, New York Review of Books

‘What Haskell brings, along with the scrupulous documentation, impeccable scholarship and a host of other qualities to which we have become accustomed, is perspective. With every character and with every fact the reader instantly sees how big they are and in what relation they stand to everything else. The result is a picture that makes sense. The perspective comes not least through a profound understanding of quality in painting.’—Desmond Shawe-Taylor, The Burlington Magazine

ISBN: 9780300190120
Publication Date: November 19, 2013
Publishing Partner: Published for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art
260 pages, 8 1/2 x 10 1/2
80 color + 40 b/w illus.

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