The Duke of Shrewsbury and Roman Art

In 1701, writes L.R. Betcherman, a leading member of the Whig Junto retired to Rome for the sake of his health.

In the eighteenth century, travelling Englishmen invaded Italy, for the most part arriving as artistic barbarians and departing as virtuosi. They left with pictures, statues, prints and, on occasion, an Italian artist in tow.

At home in England, they built country houses to rival the Palladian villas and filled them with art treasures which gave occupation to the Waagens and the Sothebys for several centuries.

One of the most dramatic conversions from fox-hunter to art-lover was that of Charles Talbot, Duke of Shrewsbury, a retired statesman and middle-aged bachelor, who went to Italy for his health in 1701.

He left an important career behind him. More than any other individual, Shrewsbury was responsible for bringing William III to the English throne. After the Revolution of 1688, he twice served as Secretary of State and was a foremost member of the Whig Junto that governed England during the 1690s.

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