Works of art as commodities. Art and patronage: the career of Sir Dudley Carleton 1610 - 1625

  • Robert William Hill

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This thesis examines the way in which Sir Dudley Carleton, ambassador first to Venice and subsequently to The Hague, used paintings, sculptures and other artefacts as the means to secure patrons at the English Court and thereby gain promotion. Carleton had not wanted to go to Venice, and when he arrived there in 1610 he showed no interest in the arts. It was the deaths of the Earl of Salisbury and Prince Henry in 1612 which made him aware of the need to obtain new patrons. By this time he was becoming conscious of the fact that works of art were useful tools in securing patronage, but it was not until the visit to Venice of the Earl of Arundel in 1613 that his eyes were opened to the artistic riches around him. He now began assembling a collection of works of art which he had despatched to the royal favourite, the Earl of Somerset in 1614 and 1615. Although he was mistaken in assuming that this action opened his way to his appointment to The Hague in August 1614, he was by now convinced that such gifts could play a major part in obtaining and influencing the patrons whose support he would need if his career were to prosper. Carleton's change of attitude was demonstrated by the way in which, on his arrival at The Hague in 1616, he quickly made contact with leading artists and began commissioning pictures from them. Yet despite using gifts of art-works to remind patrons of his existence and prompt them to support his claims to office whenever a suitable vacancy arose, Carleton seemed doomed to remain at The Hague. This was principally because he failed to gain the backing of the new favourite, Buckingham. However, when the government's foreign policy changed direction after 1623, Carleton became more acceptable to Buckingham, which, in February 1625, secured him the minor post of Vice-Chamberlain, the first step in his rise to become Secretary of State. Although Carleton's appointment coincided with the gift of a marble gate and chimney to the favourite, this had no direct impact on securing his advancement. Yet it showed how, despite the fact that during his years in Venice and at The Hague he had become quite a sophisticated judge of the value of paintings, Carleton still regarded them primarily as commodities to be used in the furtherance of his career.
    Date of Award1999
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Nottingham Trent University

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