Rubens and King Charles I

Painter of genius, gifted courtier and much-travelled man of the world, Rubens reached England in 1629, charged with the delicate task of furthering an entente between the Spanish government and Great Britain. C.V. Wedgwood shows how he enjoyed the conversation of his youthful host, whose fine aesthetic taste he shared, but shrewdly judged the weakness of King Charles I’s diplomacy.

On Whit Monday 1629, Peter Paul Rubens, the most famous painter in Europe, disembarked at Dover from His Majesty’s ship Adventure and proceeded immediately towards London. He remained in England until the middle of the following March, a period of nearly ten months, during which he completed the preliminary negotiations for a treaty of peace and friendship between King Charles I and King Philip IV of Spain. He also visited the finest collections of paintings in the country, was lavishly entertained by the courtiers and ministers of King Charles, painted two or three original works and wrote a great number of official despatches and private letters, full of lively comment on the English scene.

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