Charles I: King and Collector Exhibtion – The Royal Academy
Charles I: King and Collector. A disastrous King. But Oh! What a collector of Art.
The splendour, the sumptuousness, the ostentatious opulence. The sheer majesty. I could go on but you get my drift surely? Billed as a “once in a lifetime opportunity”, it was essential that I attended and I wasn’t disappointed. Charles I: King and Collector at the RA is quite simply one of the greatest assaults on my personal senses that I have ever experienced. My usual penchant for Art is with the Abstract Expressionists from the 1950s. But this was something else.
It was not lost on me that quite a large portion of the exhibition was on loan from HM the Queen. Walking from gallery to gallery it was hard not to be flabbergasted by the works on display. None more so than Van Dyck. The quality of the art can only truly be experienced close up. How magnificent the talents on display! Charlie must have had a phenomenal collector’s eye. He was fortunate to have swooped in on the Gonzaga collection. Picking it up at bargain bin prices. A few years later though, he wasn’t so lucky in keeping a good head on his shoulders. A curious dichotomy of fortune surely? At this point, I couldn’t take it all in, I had to repair to the Café for a dazzling tincture which gave me a second wind. I then headed back to the galleries for more of the same.
I marvelled at Andrea Mantegna’s The Triumphs of Caesar, which consists of nine huge canvases. These paintings depict all the grandeur and nefarious activities of Ancient Rome. I adored Van Dyck’s triptych of Charlie Boy, the ultimate expression of vanity surely. (That’s given me an idea!). I could go on, but if you have time, please try to get there yourself as you can really only experience this first hand.
Heading for the anonymity of the tube, I walked down Piccadilly in the rain. Life’s unfairness hit me square in the face. By the tube station sat a guy begging, holding out a dampened coffee cup. I dropped a few bob in it, and wondered why he was at that point in life. I then thought of myself as lucky. Then my thoughts turned to the Art market yet again, and the disparity between it all as previously mentioned.
To be honest, I have long stopped trying to question it all. The Cosmos, our place in it, money, life, love and experience. I can’t change it, so there’s no point trying.
Better to simply wonder at the Art, and repair to a shady nook with a nice pot of Earl Grey and ponder the meaning of it all.
Charles I: King and Collector Exhibtion is on until the 15th April 2018.
Royal Academy of Arts
Burlington House, Piccadilly,
London, W1J 0BD