Royal Collectors in England

The English royal line has included several notable collectors of art, as Doreen Agnew here documents.

Taste for art is clearly dangerous for a wearer of the British Crown. Two, Richard II and Charles I, were put to death and George IV, living in less brutal times, only had the windows of his state coach broken by an infuriated mob. Most of the other famous royal collectors, Roger Fry might have added, were also unlucky in their lives. Both Henry, Prince of Wales, the elder brother of Charles I, and Frederick, Prince of Wales, father of George III, died before they succeeded to the throne, while George III, despite some admirable qualities, can hardly be looked upon as either a happy or a successful sovereign. Moreover, it was not until after his death, at a comparatively early age, that the work of Queen Victoria’s consort, Prince Albert, was properly appreciated by the people of England. Yet the pictures gathered together by these royal personages are described by the present Surveyor of the Queen’s Pictures, as “a monument to enlightened patronage and collecting for which few parallels can be found.”

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