Charles I

Born on November 19, 1600 as the second son to James VI of Scotland and Anne of Denmark, Charles I was second in line for the throne, succeeding his older and adored brother Henry. Henry, however died in 1612, and after the deaths of both of Charles’ parents in 1625, Charles became king. Soon after his accession Charles married Henrietta Maria of France and had five children together. Charles nonetheless created conflict with parliament, which led to a civil war and overall unrest in Scotland—he would eventually be executed for treason on January 30, 1649. Charles’ affinity for art began in 1623 when he became inspired by a visit to the Spanish court. Charles became an active art collector and filled his impressive collection with works by Velazquez, Titian, Correggio, Rubens, and van Dyck. In 1627 Charles purchased the entire collection of the Duke of Mantua for €18,280, which was described as “so wonderful and glorious a collection the like will never again be met with,” and in 1636 he acquired one-fourth of the collection of Bartolomeo Della Nave, a Venetian businessman. Both of these collections included works of Titian as well as other well known artists and grew his collection to include works by Bernini, Breugel, da Vinci, Tintoretto, Durer, and Rembrandt. Charles often visited the royal collection and began to attend auctions where he purchased several additional Titian’s and even bid for Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks. Other works that he admired, but could not afford, were often gifted to him by alternative monarchs. For example, Philip IV gifted Charles the Venus of the Prado, and when Charles could not afford Correggio’s Holy Family, the Spanish Monarch was equally generous and gifted the work. Charles also possessed an extensive collection of ancient coins and medals, sculptures—including 210 pieces at Greenwich Palace and in its gardens—and exquisite books. While Charles’ art collecting was quite a hobby, it seemed to be nothing more. Charles did not create or advance any institutions to elevate or further organize art; instead it seemed that his hobby seemed to govern his time, so much so that he in turn did not govern England. By Charles’ execution in 1649 he possessed an estimated 1,760 paintings, many of which were taken by Parliament in aims to be sold and dispersed around the globe.