The hunt for the lost collection of Charles I involved much detective work, collaborating with public institutions, private collections and auction houses. The database draws together information on Charles I's art collection from a range of sources from the seventeenth century to the present day. As well as Sir Oliver Millar (1923-2007), historians of the collection such as Horace Walpole (1717-97) and Sir George Scharf (1820-95) provided invaluable leads on works relating to the inventories. Over the course of the project we have made some fascinating discoveries.
The database combines information from Oliver Millar's two twentieth-century transcriptions of the van der Doort and Sale inventories, offering a link between the two inventories for the first time. Some of van der Doort's annotations and edits, most of which Millar captured in the footnotes and appendices to his transcription, have been difficult to convert into digital form; though, generally, if a reference is made to an art work we have attempted to record it somewhere on the database. We encourage the dedicated student of the collection to refer back to the Walpole Society transcriptions before citing.
To these inventories we have added information from the following historic inventories to give a picture of the collection's pre- and post-history. If you would like to know where these inventories are held and how to find published transcriptions, please contact Royal Collection Trust for more information.
- Henry VIII (Whitehall Palace, Hampton Court and others,1542 and 1547-49)
- Anne of Denmark (Oatlands 1616-19 and Denmark House [Somerset house] 1619)
- Charles I when Prince of Wales (c.1624)
- Mantua Inventory (1627)
- Charles II (Whitehall Palace and Hampton Court c.1666)
In the database we concentrate chiefly on recording the paintings but include any other artworks (such as sculpture or medals) given significant attention in the inventories – this means capturing all of van der Doort's inventory but omitting some of the Sale contents, such as wardrobe items, jewelry, armour and some decorative arts.
This is a twenty-first century digital transcription; within each record, therefore, we include present-day titles, attributions, locations and images, as well as historic provenance notes where possible. We update van der Doort's measurements from feet and inches to centimetres and take care to modernise phraseology and spellings of words and names in order to make the inventories as user-friendly as possible – this glossary of names gives some of the original spellings. Similarly, a glossary of names from the Sale Inventory is provided.
We have devised a system for expressing uncertainty when making identifications with paintings today. Some works appear as only 'possible' matches or as a 'version of' a lost item.
Most importantly, The Lost Collection of Charles I is a working document - nothing is intended to be definitive. Further information about works, particularly identifications of those we have not been able to trace, would be gratefully received. Contact information is available below.