Francis Henry Taylor [1948]


Arundel, who had access to the King’s ministers and ambassadors in foreign parts, employed them as well as countless other agents, particularly painters, to inform him of anything good that might be on the market. The inventory made in Amsterdam in 1655 is published with valuable commentaries by Miss Hervey in her Life (p.473). It is an absorbing document in contrast to the listings of the property belonging to the King and Buckingham, for in it we see fewer princely pedigrees and a greater spirit of adventure. That Arundel was a born collector is attested by the independence and maturity of his taste. The inventory has 799 listed items of which 200 are objets d’art including sculpture, but not counting the classical antiquities. Of the remainder, nearly 600 are pictures. Few of the great masters from Michelangelo down the scale, indeed, are lacking, but what is far more interesting, equal attention seems to have been lavished upon the 200 or more paintings to which no hand is ascribed. Arundel thus appears to be among the first who admired the work of art for its own merit and he was profoundly unconcerned by what the dealer and the critic thought of it. The Taste of Angels: A History of Art Collecting from Ramses to Napoleon p. 227-228.


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