To be held on 18 May at 11.00 am.
George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, was the favourite of King James I – who addressed him as ‘my sweet child and wife’ – and subsequently chief minister to King Charles I. Buckingham was a beauty, and he surrounded himself with beautiful things. He enjoyed exquisite clothes, like the fabulous white silk suit encrusted with diamonds that he wore to visit the Queen of France. He was a discerning patron. Inigo Jones renovated his houses. John Tradescant was his garden designer. In his great house on the Strand he put together a collection of art works as fine as King Charles’s. Lucy will show you some of the magnificent paintings he owned – the Titians, the Tintorettos, the Veroneses. Buckingham was also a patron, commissioning boldly innovative new work. Most remarkable are the portraits of him by painters including Van Honthorst, Van Dyck and Rubens – images by great artists of a man known as ‘the handsomest-bodied man in Europe’.
Image shows the Duke and Duchess of Buckingham as Venus and Adonis by Van Dyck courtesy Wikimedia
Lucy Hughes-Hallett is a cultural historian and biographer.
Her book on Gabrieled’Annunzio, The Pike, was described in The Sunday Times as ‘the biography of the decade’. It won all three of the UK’s most prestigious prizes for non-fiction – the Samuel Johnson Prize, the Duff Cooper Prize and the Costa Biography Award. She also writes fiction. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and of the Historical Association, she has written on books, theatre and the visual arts for a number of publications, including The Sunday Times, The Observer, The New Statesman and the TLS, and for Radio 3’s Night Waves. She was Chair of the Judges for the 2021 International Booker Prize.