george villiers Duke of buckingham-

The handsomest man in 17th century europe and his patronage of the arts

3 July  2024

Digby hall , hound street, sherborne at 3 pm and 7 pm

The Duke of Buckingham by William Larkin

The Duke and Duchess of Buckingham as Venus and Adonis by Van Dyck

The Duke of Buckingham by Peter Paul Rubens

The Duke of Buckingham was the handsomest man in 17th century Europe. When he cut capers in a court masque King James I shouted out ‘By George, I love you!’ Buckingham was a beauty, and he collected beautiful things. Jewels, Horse Houses remodelled by Inigo Jones. Tapestries. Clothes. One pearl-encrusted suit cost enough to have provisioned an army. And paintings. His portraits by Rubens, Van Dyck and a dozen others. Old masters – Titian, Veronese, Tintoretto. His only disappointment came when the King of France refused to give him the Mona Lisa. His contemporaries thought Buckingham as brilliant as a meteor, and like a meteor he fell, assassinated at thirty-six. Lucy Hughes-Hallett will show us his collection. She will tell us his story.



Lucy Hughes-Hallett

Lucy Hughes-Hallett is a cultural historian and biographer. Her book on the Duke of Buckingham will be published in 2024 by Fourth Estate.

Her previous biography, The Pike: Gabriele d’Annunzio, 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 Johns7on Prize, the Duff Cooper Prize and the Costa Biography Award. Her other non-fiction books include Cleopatra and Heroes.

She also writes fiction. Her novel, Peculiar Ground, is largely set in the 17th century, and narrated by a landscape designer loosely based on the great diarist John Evelyn. It was described as ‘almost Tolstoyan in its sly wit and descriptive brilliance’ (The Guardian) and ‘full of drama, vivid characters, wit, gorgeous writing and fascinating detail’. (New York Times).  In her short story collection, Fabulous, she retells fables from classical mythology, relocating them to modern Britain.

A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and of the Historical Association, she has written on books, theatre and the visual arts for publications including The Sunday Times, The Guardian, The Observer, The New Statesman and the TLS. She was Chair of the Judges for the 2021 International Booker Prize.