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Luxury and PowerThe Material World of the Stuart Diplomat, 1660-1714$
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Helen Jacobsen

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199693757

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199693757.001.0001

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Patronage, Networks, and the Arts

Patronage, Networks, and the Arts

The Earl of Arlington, 1618–1685

(p.116) (p.117) 5 Patronage, Networks, and the Arts
Luxury and Power

Helen Jacobsen

Oxford University Press

Henry Bennet, earl of Arlington, is a neglected statesman. A sometime diplomat, he was Charles II’s longest-serving secretary of state and held the highest household office for ten years, but his artistic patronage has most conspicuously been overlooked and its political significance underestimated. Informed by his experiences abroad, he appreciated the power of the arts to influence and impress and used the cultural mediation of the English diplomatic network in his control to help skilfully fashion his domestic political identity. Through judicious display of architecture, paintings, sculpture, and furniture, Arlington created a cultural world that confirmed both his close relationship with Charles II and his dominance of foreign affairs. This chapter reconsiders Arlington’s contributions as a statesman through his considered use of material consumption and artistic patronage and thereby illuminates corners of cultural practice which are situated firmly in the political sphere.

Keywords:   diplomat, household, artistic patronage, cultural mediation, network, political identity, architecture, paintings, sculpture, material consumption, political sphere

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