Thursday, 12 April 2012

Charles II Mistresses at Hampton Court Palace

Today we found ourselves at Hampton Court Palace and did our best to dodge the many April showers today!
Apart from the usual things toucan see at Hampton Court including the maze, which is amazing (sorry) there is a new exhibition of the portraits of the mistresses of Charles II.




To use common parlance Charles II obviously liked to put it about as he had quite a few mistresses. The paintings are lovely and some are by top drawer artists of the time. The many paintings feature his mistresses in various states of undress and to my eye, all look very similar. There are of course many pictures of his most famous mistress, Nell Gwynn. Apparently Charles II was extremely fond of her feet which were described as the daintiest feet in all of England. I suspect he was extremely fond of other things as well.
The many mistresses were regarded as 'the' beauties of the day and considering the various artists probably painted very flattering portraits of the sitter in a precursor to Photoshop, they might not be viewed the same way today.




It is nonetheless a very well put together exhibition with lots of paintings and information. The paintings of his mistresses with little or no clothes were kept in Whitehall Palace behind other paintings. Charles II would then share these paintings with the chosen few. One wonders what someone would have said if the King showed you one of these paintings?





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