Set against the backdrop of war, revolution, and regicide, and moving from London to Venice, Mantua, Madrid, Paris and the Low Countries, Jerry Brotton’s colourful and critically acclaimed book explores the formation and dispersal of King Charles I’s art collection. Following a remarkable and unprecedented Parliamentary Act for ‘The sale of the late king’s goods’, Cromwell’s republican regime sold off nearly 2,000 paintings, tapestries, statues and drawings in an attempt to settle the dead king’s enormous debts and raise money for the Commonwealth’s military forces. Brotton recreates the extraordinary circumstances of this sale, in which for the first time ordinary working people were able to handle and own works by the great masters. He also examines the abiding relationship between art and power, revealing how the current Royal Collection emerged from this turbulent period, and paints its own vivid and dramatic picture of one of the greatest lost collections in English history.
'A rip-roaring slice of seventeenth-century England...Readable history at its best' Kate Mosse, author of Labyrinth