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Royal Collectors

Charles I (1600 – 49) formed a spectacular collection of paintings, making purchases around Europe, and was a patron of contemporary artists such as Rubens and van Dyck. Much of the collection was sold after his execution.

Charles II (1630 – 85) received a handsome gift of paintings from the States-General of Holland in 1660 and recovered what he could of Charles I’s collection. He acquired volumes of drawings by Leonardo da Vinci and Holbein.

Frederick, Prince of Wales (1717 – 51) formed an important collection of Italian, Spanish, French and Flemish paintings, drawings and miniatures, together with furniture and silver.

George III (1738 – 1820) made the most significant additions to the Royal Collection since Charles I, including the acquisition of Consul Smith’s paintings (including Canaletto), drawings, books, gems and medals in 1762. He formed a magnificent collection of books.

George IV (1762 – 1830) had an all-consuming passion for collecting and completely transformed the Royal Collection. He was an avid collector of Dutch and Flemish paintings, French furniture, clocks and silver and formed one of the greatest collections of Sèvres porcelain in the world.

Queen Victoria (1819 – 1901) made additions to all parts of the Royal Collection, in particular during her marriage to Prince Albert. They were both patrons of artists such as Landseer and acquired large quantities of furniture and furnishings for Balmoral Castle and Osborne House.

Edward VII (1841 – 1910), when Prince of Wales, employed artists to record his overseas tours. With Queen Alexandra he also formed an outstanding collection of the work of Carl Fabergé.

George V (1865 – 1936), together with Queen Mary, was a collector of gold boxes and of Fabergé. Queen Mary also collected items of historical and family interest.

Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother (1900 – 2002) formed a small but important collection of modern paintings and acquired pieces to enhance the strengths of the Royal Collection, such as Fabergé, porcelain and silver.

Queen Elizabeth II (b.1926) has focused on additions to the Royal Collection which complement existing objects or have a strong association with past sovereigns or members of the royal family.