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The Court of Charles I and the Dutch Republic

The King and Queen of Bohemia dining in Public©

The paintings in this section were executed during the seventeenth century by artists from the Low Countries, some working in Holland and some in England. They describe the milieu of the elite, with the trappings of fashionable life: fine costumes, Italianate architecture, formal gardens, well-kept stables and well-trained horses. 

Though the sitters are similarly prosperous their deportment reflects different ideas as to how a state and a family should be ordered. The courts of Charles I (1600–49) and his family (nos. 1–3) are shown with ceremonial formality and a respect for degree. Merchants of the Dutch Republic on the other hand seem to be involved in much more boisterous and convivial gatherings (nos. 4, 6 and 7).

Formal aristocratic manners became widespread in the last years of the seventeenth century, when the elites of Europe were dazzled by the example of Louis XIV’s Versailles. Conviviality and freedom of social interaction, in part inspired by the Dutch example, staged something of a come-back during the eighteenth century, as the glamour of Versailles faded.

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