Bought with Love: The Secret History of British Art Collections
on BBC Four 17th, 24th and 31st July 9pm
It would be hard to imagine a world where there were no public galleries full of paintings, where the names of Leonardo and Michelangelo were hardly known, where art was considered purely decorative and artists merely craftsman – but this was Britain 400 years ago.
Since then, art has flooded to our shores and our appreciation of art and artists has been transformed.
In a new three-part series for BBC Four, art historian Helen Rosslyn traces the stories of the men and women whose enthusiasm for art, sense of adventure, and powerful wealth built Britain’s national collection and shaped the history of art of our nation.
In the first episode, Pioneers, Helen reveals the immense influence of the pioneers – the earliest 17th century adventurers in art collecting. Starting with Thomas Howard, the ‘Collector’ Earl of Arundel, Helen tells how his passion for the Old Masters of the Italian Renaissance began an unparalleled revolution in the visual arts and the appreciation of painting in Britain. The founder of a tradition that saw continental travel and collecting go hand in hand, Arundel’s influence sparked an appreciation for fine art that spread to Charles I and his entourage, The Whitehall Group. Arundel was key in encouraging Rubens and Van Dyck to England, painters who would completely revolutionise painting in the country and fire an enthusiasm for the baroque art that defined the era of Charles I.
Bought With Love: The Secret History Of British Art Collections is a BBC Scotland Production. The executive producer is Franny Moyle.