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Recovering the collection

One of the first acts by the House of Lords after the Restoration was to form a committee tasked with the recovery of the Royal Collection, most of which had been sold by the Parliamentarians between 1649 and 1651. Anyone still holding goods formerly belonging to Charles I was instructed to return them to the royal palaces immediately, an order that was later passed into law.

A significant proportion of pictures were returned and by the end of the king’s reign, supplemented by acquisitions and gifts, Charles II owned over 1,000 paintings, many of which remain in the Royal Collection today. The king was undoubtedly aware of the importance of paintings as a visual symbol of magnificence and the powerful message conveyed by the return of his father’s collection to the Crown.

The recovery of furnishings was less successful, necessitating the urgent acquisition of new furniture for the palaces. The Restoration saw the establishment of a new court style dominated by the extravagant and costly fashions emanating from the palaces of Louis XIV. Although Charles II was never permitted the absolutist power enjoyed by his first cousin, he was able to create the impression of it through the magnificent furnishings of his palaces.

Follower of Marinus van Reymerswaele (c. 1490-c. 1567)

The Misers

Orazio Gentileschi (Pisa 1563-London 1639)

A Sibyl

Flemish School, early 17th century

A Boy Looking through a Casement

Michiel Jansz van Miereveld (Delft 1567-1641)

A Bearded Old Man with a Shell

? Dutch