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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.

Leonardo da Vinci (Vinci 1452-Amboise 1519)

A bearded man in profile, confronted by a grotesque profile

Leonardo da Vinci (Vinci 1452-Amboise 1519)

The muscles of the back and arm

Guido Reni (Bologna 1575-Bologna 1642)

The head of a woman

Michelangelo Buonarroti (Caprese 1475-Rome 1564)

The head of the Virgin