Art under the Protectorate
On 30th January 1649 Charles I was beheaded, almost immediately the
Parliamentarians planned to seel all his goods (including statues and household
objects) to settle his debts with ordinary tradespeople such as tailors,
glaziers and embroiderers. Nine trustees were appointed and used the inventory
of Charles’s art carried out by Abraham van der Doort (his curator) in 1640.
They added estimated valuations and by autumn the Great Commonwealth Sale began.
In total there were 1,570 paintings.
The King of Spain, Philip IV, (who had inspired Charles to collect in the
first place during his visit of 1623), was top of the list of collectors to buy.
He used a two-stage process, as he did not want to be seen to be supporting
those who had beheaded a king. The first stage involved individuals buying the
work and then his agents would buy from them. We still have the Spanish
ambassadors reports with lists of pictures and his comments on their aesthetic
Some of the works were bought by Parliamentarians such as Colonel Hutchinson,
who bought the Children of Charles I, and he sold at a profit later. Public
statues however were melted down. The equestrian statue of Charles now in
Trafalgar Square only survived as the owner, Lord Weston, buried it in his
Other collections were also sold such as those of Henrietta Maria, the young
Charles (later Charles II who already owned works of his own), the Duke of
Buckingham and the Duke of Hamilton (the Whitehall Group – Charles, Arundel,
Buckingham and Hamilton).
Buckingham’s eldest son was born in 1828 (the year he was assassinated) and was
also called George Villiers, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, in 1645 went abroad.
Parliament seized his collection but the Earl of Northumberland intervened and
managed to stop the sale, but took Titian’s Cardinal Georges d’Armagnac with his
secretary (still in his castle today).
1646 2nd Duke of Buckingham returned and sent the collection to the
Netherlands, 16 chests including 200 paintings. He pawned them for cash to live
and they were eventually bought by Archduke Leopold William (a great collector
then living in the Netherlands) for 60,000 florins. he also bought the Duke of
Hamilton’s collection (Hamilton had been executed with Charles in 1649).
David Teniers, Archduke Williams’ curator, 1651, in the Prado today.
By the 1630s Arundel was in financial difficulties, Van Dyck’s Madagascar
Portrait, 1636, shows the hair-brained scheme he created to set up a commercial
company to exploit Madagascar.
1641, Arundel escorted Maria d’Medici abroad, even then he was selling
drawings to pay his debts. In London he sent 60 cases if his belongings abroad.
In 1642 he escaped with Henrietta Maria. He died in 1645 in Parma, a broken man.
His wife survived to 1644. The collection was sold to support Charles and some
went to Parliamentarians. In 1653 Arundel’s grandson sought to sell the
pictures to the French and Spanish ambassadors but Arundel’s youngest son then
sued the grandson and stopped the sale. An inventory was drawn up in 1654 and
the agent of the Spanish ambassador bought 56 Venetian paintings straight away
including eight Veronese (including Christ and the Centurion , still in the
Jabach, one of Arundel’s former agents bought elements of the collection in
1662 including several Holbein’s (William Wareham, Anne of Cleves and Concert
Champ'tre, Titian/Giorgione, sold to Louis XVI in and all still in the Louvre).
His nephews also bought some of the works to make money but they went wrong.
First they over-priced the work and sold none, they then set up a lottery but
sold no tickets even though it included Titian’s Flaying of Marsyas. In the end
Carl von Lichtenstein bought it for a vastly reduced price.
The valuation price of the Commonwealth Sale inventory was '33,690 bought it
was not all sold so syndicates were set up and the remaining works were given
to creditors to pay off the debt. This meant there were masterworks in houses all
over London. For example, Charles’s tailor had Durer’s self-portrait. It was a
paradise for the Spanish ambassador as he could knock down prices. Paintings
continued to be sold into the 18th century.
The initial sale was in Old Somerset House and it was very slow to get
started. Colonel Hutchinson, who was part of the tribunal that sentenced
Charles, bought Titian. Venus and the Organ Player for '165 and later sold it
for '600. In total Hutchinson spent '1,349 on paintings including the Children
of Charles I.
Titian’s Rape of Lucretia was bought by Colonel; William Webb another
Charles assistant bought pictures for under '40. The Spanish ambassador led
the way in the first stage of the sale but on the secondary market. He bought
Raphael’s The Holy Family (“The Pearl”) originally valued at '3,000 for '2,600.
Titian’s St. Peter Enthroned and Pope Alexander X was valued at '250, the
Spanish ambassador said it was dark and melancholy and not a painting of taste
so he was able to judge between different Titians. Titian’s Entombment of Christ
was '600. Nine tapestries of the Acts of the Apostles were '3,969.
In the early stages the French were not involved but they entered during the
second stage. One of the creditors was Balthazar Gerbier who ran away when the
Civil War started and returned and was able to weasel his way into the
affections of Cromwell’s government even though he had been knighted by Charles.
He wrote a pamphlet condemning Charles. Emperor Charles V with hound was given
to him to pay off his debt of '150 and he sold it to Spain (it is still in the
1650, 674 paintings were given to the creditors and many were sold to the
Spanish ambassador. Ruben’s Peace and War was valued at '100 and was given to a
1653 the market was saturated and prices went down but the French ambassador
entered the market representing Cardinal Mazarin and prices went up. Colonel
Hutchinson bought Titian’s Pardo Venus for '600 in 1649 (it was given to Charles
in 1623), he then offered it to the French ambassador for '4,200 and a few days
later raised the price to '4,900 and sold it.
Some works were reserved for the Government including Mantegna’s Triumphs of
Caesar and Raphael’s Cartoons of the Acts of the Apostles. It was a peculiar
rag-bag including tapestries, one or two portraits, old testament subjects.
Possibly it was because they actively used the palaces to entertain foreign
dignitaries and they could not have bare walls so they kept the serious subjects
they were not Catholic.
Paintings Inspired by Van Dyck
Van Dyck created a new style of painting they many followed.
Gilbert Jackson went round the country painting portraits, for example, Lord
Belasyse, 1636, is an poor attempt to paint in a Van Dyck style.
John Souch, Sir Thomas Aston and His Family, 1636, Manchester. Son on left is
his second wifes. In 1616 Souch was apprentice to a herald in Chester and this
could be the reason for his flat style.
Saltonstall Family, 1636/7, Tate Britain, usually attributed to
David Des Granges.
William Dobson, Prince Charles, 1642. In 1642 Charles I held his court in
Oxford. The portrait is indebted to Van Dyck as is the background but the medusa
head is too stark for Van Dyck and Van Dyck would never have cut off Charles at
Endymion Porter (a friend of Charles), a beautiful picture by Dobson. The Van
Dyck Baroque tradition is clearly being absorbed into English painting by the
Cromwell had no court painter but he used six or seven painters. See handout
engraving of Oliver and Elizabeth Cromwell in the style of Myten’s portrait of
Charles and Henrietta Maria (also Van Dyck’s portrait). Do we interpret the
symbology as representing the divine right of kings or much more broadly. It is
unclear why Oliver is on the right as the man always stood on the left, maybe it
was because it was an engraving. The dress is plain, no lace and Puritan.
Although the dress has d'collet' it was fashionable amongst Puritans. Note that
the faces are virtually identical. Oliver constantly used the word plain and
this shows his plain clothing (but note that Velazquez’s Portrait of Philip IV
of Spain he is also plain but Catholic).
Robert Walker, Oliver Cromwell, 1649, Walker becomes the Van Dyck of the
Parliamentarians. Note that armour was redundant in the 17th century because of
gunfire and although a breast plate and back plate were worn this full armour
and the sash round his waist are pure invention.
Walker said he followed the postures of Van Dyck because he could think of
nothing better (not the similarity to Van Dyck’s Earl of Strafford). Titian’s
Alucution of Alphonso Dabaloss in Charles’s collection was the ultimate
Henry Ireton (Robert Walker) a leading commander, like Van Dyck’s Arundel and
Robert Walker, Richard Dean, like Van Dyck’s Earl of Northumberland.
Robert Walker, Oliver Cromwell (fig. 6), is not so much like Van Dyck, so his
portraits do show an evolution.
Fig. 7, Sir Peter Lely, Oliver Cromwell, 1654 and Samuel Cooper’s Oliver
Cromwell are both different from Van Dyck as they are not idealised. Cromwell is
alleged to have said “Paint me as I look, warts and all” to Sir Peter Lely.
The print by Peter Lombart of Oliver Cromwell and Charles I on horseback has
Van Dyck’s Charles I On Horseback with M. de St. Antoine as its model. In 1655
Oliver Cromwell’s head was added and in the 1660s Charles I head was put back.
Oliver Cromwell turned down the monarchy possibly because as Protector he was
a dictator and more powerful then a mere monarch.