Prince Eugene of Savoy: Patron of Art and Collector

Ross Watson introduces Prince Eugene of Savoy; Marlborough’s companion in arms was not only a great soldier but also one of the most important patrons and collectors of his day; a modest man with a deep love of painting and architecture inspired by a strongly individual taste.

This article is concerned with the collecting activities of Eugene of Savoy1 and will have nothing to say about his military exploits, which have been adequately dealt with elsewhere2, except to suggest that he has been under-estimated in England.

Here we shall be seeing Prince Eugene peacefully occupied as a patron of the arts, a builder of palaces, and a collector of pictures, who also made an outstanding collection of books and manuscripts, though in the present essay it cannot be described.

That a great-nephew of Mazarin—the Prince’s mother, Olimpia Mancini, was one of the three beautiful nieces of the Cardinal—should have been a collector of pictures is not perhaps surprising. When he left Paris in 1683, he could hardly have been unaware of the accumulated treasures of his great-uncle, which has passed to the French Crown.

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