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Nigel Smith

In 1629, Charles I of England sent Daniel Nys to Europe to buy art. Along with works by Titian and Rubens, Nys bought Mantegna’s masterpiece, The Triumphs of Caesar (1486–92). This work on nine large panels is at once sombre and full of wonders. Of its time the most accurate representation of Roman customs and costumes, it is also a work in which precision has a strange effect, almost of tenderness. Still hung at Hampton Court, it was one of only a few works that Cromwell kept after the regicide.

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