In 1649, following his defeat in the civil war, Charles I was executed, and his personal effects, including his great collection of works of art, were put up for sale. 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. In this book distinguished historians and art historians trace the political and artistic relationship of Britain and Spain in the first half of the seventeenth century, culminating in this Sale of the Century. The book includes portraits and biographies of the leading figures, contemporary representations of the major historical events, and an account of many of the masterpieces that moved from London to Madrid.
Jonathan Brown, Carroll and Milton Petrie Professor of Fine Arts at New York University, and Sir John Elliott, Regius Professor Emeritus of Modern History in the University of Oxford, are joint authors of A Palace for a King: The Buen Retiro and the Court of Philip IV and have written numerous books on Spanish art and history.