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Acquisitions and courtier gifts

Although Charles II particularly admired Old Masters, he also enjoyed contemporary classical-style paintings dominated by semi-nude figures. Between 1676 and 1681, he acquired seven pictures from the Italian artist Benedetto Gennari who frequently produced such works. These paintings advertised the patron’s knowledge of classical literature and provided an opportunity to develop quasi-erotic imagery.

Gifts from loyal courtiers also contributed to the Collection. Sir John Finch, the British Resident in Florence, made a gift of two paintings by the Italian artist, Carlo Dolci, while Edward Montagu, 1st Earl of Sandwich, presented the king with Palma Vecchio’s A Sibyl taken from his own collection.

Benedetto Gennari (Cento 1633-Bologna 1715)

Venus and the Sleeping Adonis

Benedetto Gennari (Cento 1633-Bologna 1715)

The Triumph of Galatea

Carlo Dolci (Florence 1616-86)

The Penitent Magdalen

Pieter Gerritsz van Roestraten (Haarlem c. 1631-London 1700)

A Vanitas

Sir Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641)

The Infant Christ and St John the Baptist

Palma Vecchio (active 1480-1528)

A Sibyl

Carlo Dolci (Florence 1616-86)

Salome with the Head of John the Baptist