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All the King's pictures: whatever happened to Charley’s art?

Almost four centuries after it  was sold off, Charles I’s great collection is being reunited  for a once-in-a-lifetime show

It is arguably the most elegant vision of kingship ever painted. Dressed in a shimmering silver jacket and radiant red breeches, with a pearl-drop earring and wide-brimmed hat, Charles I stands in the countryside, one gloved hand resting nonchalantly on his hip. You wouldn’t guess it from his dandyish attire, but he is out hunting.

Moments before, he would have been hurtling through the landscape on the dappled grey steed that now stamps and froths behind him, frenzied with exhaustion. Yet here (in the image reproduced on this week’s Review cover) he has dismounted to witness the climax of the hunt – a kill – which has just occurred “off-screen”, to our left. He appears the epitome of serene nobility, unruffled by the chase, as befits a monarch who wished to project...

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