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Charles II's collection of Old Master drawings

Charles II amassed a significant collection of Renaissance drawings during his reign. Although it is not known how they were acquired, contemporary accounts attest to their presence in the Royal Collection by the 1670s. Charles’s interest in drawings may have developed during his years in exile, when he could have encountered collections such as that of his cousin Louis XIV, who went on to form one of the largest collections of drawings in Europe.

At the core of Charles II’s collection were drawings that had previously belonged to the great collector Thomas Howard, 14th Earl of Arundel, including celebrated albums of drawings by Hans Holbein and Leonardo da Vinci that were probably presented to Charles by Arundel’s grandson. Many other Italian drawings in Charles’s collection bear evidence of earlier English ownership such as the star stamps associated with the collectors Nicholas and Jerome Lanier, and the price codes of the dealer William Gibson.

The income from your ticket contributes directly to The Royal Collection Trust, a registered charity. The aims of The Royal Collection Trust are the care and conservation of the Royal Collection, and the promotion of access and enjoyment through exhibitions, publications, loans and educational activities.