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The Dutch Gift

In 1660 Charles II was presented with an extraordinary gift of 28 paintings, including 24 Italian old masters, as well as 12 antique sculptures and furniture from the States of Holland and West Friesland, thereafter known as the ‘Dutch Gift’. His sister, Mary, was married to the Stadholder, Prince William II of Orange, and during his exile Charles had spent a number of years living in the Low Countries. The gift was recognition of the close connections between the Dutch and English royal courts and a show of support for his Restoration.

The majority of works making up the gift were bought from the collection of two Dutch merchants, Gerard and Jan Reynst, and from the collection of the artist Gerrit Dou. Upon the presentation of the works, it was reported that Charles thanked the Dutch ‘for so worthy a Present, and express’d his willingness to enter into a neerer Alliance with them’ – a vow that was short-lived, for by 1665 the two countries were at war.

Attributed to Vittore Belliniano (active 1507-29)

The Concert

Lorenzo Lotto (Venice c. 1480-Loreto 1556)

Andrea Odoni

Giulio Romano (Rome c. 1499-Mantua 1546)

Portrait of Margherita Paleologo