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Collecting Old Master Paintings

Charles II was undoubtedly aware of the importance of paintings as visual symbols of magnificence. During his 25-year reign, Charles II amassed an important collection of over 1,000 pictures.

After the execution of Charles I in 1649, the Royal Collection had been sold by the Parliamentarians in what became known as the Commonwealth Sales. Conscious of the powerful message that would be conveyed by the recovery of the collection, in May of 1660 Charles II issued a proclamation ordering the immediate return of goods formerly belonging to Charles I. A significant number of pictures were recovered.

Before Charles II's return however, the recovery of the royal collection was not guaranteed. Anticipating the worst, Charles approached William Frizell, a picture dealer in Breda, from whom he purchased 72 pictures which arrived in 1662.

Another important group of pictures entered the royal collection in November of 1660, when Charles II was presented with an extraordinary gift of paintings, sculpture and furniture by the States of Holland and West Friesland. The generosity of the so-called ‘Dutch Gift’ was an overt demonstration of support for the newly-restored king and recognised the close connections between the Dutch and British royal courts.

Domenico Fetti (Rome c. 1588-Venice 1623)

David with the Head of Goliath

Flemish School, early 17th century

A Boy Looking through a Casement

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

The Misers

Michiel Jansz van Miereveld (Delft 1567-1641)

A Bearded Old Man with a Shell

Sir Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641)

The Infant Christ and St John the Baptist

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

A Vanitas

Michel Haussner (1573-c. 1638)

Bukelpokal or standing cup and cover

Carlo Dolci (Florence 1616-86)

Salome with the Head of John the Baptist

Cristofano Allori (1577-1621)

Judith with the Head of Holofernes

Unknown Person


Orazio Gentileschi (Pisa 1563-London 1639)

A Sibyl

Parmigianino (Parma 1503-Casalmaggiore 1540)

Pallas Athena

Marco d'Oggiono (c. 1475/77-1530)

The Infant Christ and Saint John Embracing

Georges de la Tour (1593-1652)

Saint Jerome