The Sale of the Century: Artistic Relations between Spain and Great Britain, 1604-1655

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On 30 January 1649, following his defeat in the English Civil War, Charles I was executed. A few months later, Parliament passed an 'Act for the Sale of the Late King's Goods', and in early October the 'Sale of the Century' began. Over the next four years, masterpieces by Raphael, Titian, Mantegna, Veronese and other famous artists were covertly acquired by the Spanish ambassador in London. He shipped them to Madrid, where they were divided between the collections of Philip IV and his principal minister, Luis de Haro. The 'Sale of the Century' is one of the most famous events in the history of collecting and is the culminating episode in this book, which traces the political and artistic relationship of Britain and Spain in the first half of the seventeenth century. Distinguished historians and art historians begin their story in 1604 with the signing of the Anglo-Spanish Peace Treaty. They also discuss the novelesque visit to Madrid in 1623 of the Prince of Wales, the future Charles I, accompanied by the Duke of Buckingham, as well as the episode involving Peter Paul Rubens, who in 1628-29 acted as an agent in fresh peace negotiations between the two monarchies. The book includes portraits and biographies of the leading figures, contemporary representations of the major historical events, and, of course, an account of many of the masterpieces that moved from London to Madrid. Never before has this remarkable story been told in such rich and colourful detail. This fascinating book is the catalogue for an exhibition held in the Museo del Prado from March 15 to June 2, 2002.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In the half century that preceded the overthrow of the English monarchy and the execution of King Charles I (1600-49), England and its sometimes enemy Spain enjoyed not only the usual rivalries of international politics but also elaborate diplomatic and commercial exchanges, whereby the English monarch and members of the nobility acquired significant collections of art. The accumulation of great paintings that marked the era was catastrophically reversed when the royal collections were auctioned off and covertly acquired by the Spanish ruler Philip IV. This volume is the excellent catalog of a recent exhibition at the Prado in Madrid, for which some 63 works have been gathered to document this extraordinary epoch in the formation and dissolution of great royal collections. Aside from aptly characterizing the works themselves, the book, edited by Brown (fine arts, NYU) and Elliott (history, emeritus, Oxford), records the manner and cost of their exchange. The scholarly essays coherently chart the political and artistic relations between the two realms, provide excellent treatments of some of the key figures in both countries, and thoughtfully investigate the museological disposition of the paintings in Philip IV's Escorial. Advanced art libraries will want to acquire this important contribution to the history of taste and collecting.-Robert Cahn, Fashion Inst. of Technology, New York Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300097610
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/2002
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 9.70 (w) x 12.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 13
A Troubled Relationship: Spain and Great Britain, 1604-1655 17
Spanish and English Diplomatic Representatives 39
Artistic Relations Between Spain and England 1604-1655 41
The Arundel Collection: Collecting and Patronage in England in the Reigns of Philip III and Philip IV 69
Luis De Haro as Minister, Patron and Collector of Art 87
Pictorial Decoration of the Escorial During the Reign of Philip IV 107
Catalogue 142
Documentary Appendix: Documents Relating to the Charles 1 Sale in the Archivo de la Casa de Alba [ACA] 278
Bibliography 298
Index 308
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