This exhibition highlights some of the finest Italian works of art in the Royal Collection. It gives an overview both of the glories of the Renaissance and Baroque in Italy, and of the passionate collecting of Italian art by the British court in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Charles I, who reigned from 1625 to 1649, assembled one of the greatest collections of paintings ever seen in Europe. He brought Italian artists to England, he was presented with paintings as gifts, and he bought extensively, most notably the best of the magnificent Gonzaga collection of Mantua. His collection was sold after his execution, but his son Charles II (reigned 1660-85) reclaimed many paintings and also made new purchases. Charles II also collected Italian Renaissance drawings, a taste followed a century later by George III (reigned 1760-1820), who assembled a fine collection of Baroque drawings for his library.