I took a day off and spent the late morning at the Royal Academy of Art’s Charles I: King and Collector exhibition.
You can read the reviews for yourself and I’m no art historian, but suffice to say that it’s an incredible collection. And, whatever the political and historical narrative of the fall of Charles I, there’s something incredible poignant about seeing him with his family in Van Dyke’s paintings. Indeed, the most striking thing is the initial confrontation with the king in his Charles I in Three Positions, which is the portrait that greets you as you enter.
It’s hung so that he’s slightly above eye-level and has the effect of making you feel as if he’s looking at you accusingly. You are after all about to walk around with the rest of the common folk and peer at his beloved art collection.
The guilt is only fleeting though. The anticipation of so many Holbeins, Titians, Rembrandts, Reubens and Gentileschis (to name but a few) in such close proximity for the first time in over 300 years is inclined to make you forget your manners and traipse on through…