Titian's Diana and Callisto bought for the nation

  • 29 February 2012

One of the most important works of art in the UK, Titian's masterpiece Diana and Callisto has been jointly bought by the National Gallery and National Galleries Scotland with help from the Art Fund.

Titian, Diana and Callisto, circa 1556…59 © National Galleries of Scotland

Titian, Diana and Callisto, circa 1556…59

One of the most important works of art in the UK, Titian’s masterpiece Diana and Callisto has been jointly bought by the National Gallery and National Galleries Scotland with help from the Art Fund, HLF, The Monument Trust and many other generous individuals and trusts.

This important acquisition - along with the purchase of its companion painting Diana and Actaeon - which we helped to buy in 2009 will ensure that these two outstanding works by Titian will remain on public display. The two paintings were part of the Bridgewater Collection and this announcement also secures the long term loan of the rest of the Bridgewater paintings, the most important private collection on public loan in the UK (to the National Galleries in Scotland).

The Art Fund has awarded a grant of £2 million towards the total cost £45 million for the painting and a further £75,000 towards a public programme. Stephen Deuchar, Art Fund Director, commented: 'These Titians are amongst the very finest works by one of the greatest painters of all time and they have influenced generations of artists. By ensuring the two works remain together we greatly augment our understanding of their significance and we are delighted to have played a role in ensuring they can continue to be on public display for generations of art lovers to enjoy.'

The work

Diana and Actaeon and Diana and Callisto were painted for King Philip II of Spain between 1556 and 1559, when Titian was at the height of his notoriety. The paintings, which have long been recognised as supreme masterpieces of Venetian Renaissance art, portray of the loves of the gods and the tragic consequences for mortals who become associated with them.

Explore Titian’s Diana and Callisto with our interactive image map, and enjoy a guide to the painting by the National Gallery’s Myojin Curator Of 16th century Italian Painting, Carol Plazzotta.

The artist

Titian (Tiziano Vecellio) built a formidable European reputation during his life, and his fame has endured. The artist’s technical wizardry, narrative skill and psychological insight ensured Titian was commissioned by the greatest patrons of his age, such as Emperor Charles V (who knighted him in 1533), and the King of Spain, Philip II.

Titian on display

You can see Diana and Callisto at the National Gallery in London for 18 months where it will be joined by Diana and Actaeon on its return from a regional tour in July. There will also be a UK tour of large scale reproductions of the work drawing on the award-winning Grand Tour the National Gallery curated London (2007) and York (2008).

We are also supporting an exciting digital programme to help raise awareness of the two Titians and bring the paintings to those unable to visit the gallery in person. A range of digital content will bring the works to life through audio, film, zoom features and specially commissioned podcasts and interviews. Furthermore, a new Smartphone app will explore Titian’s work in the context of his contemporaries and other artists.

See Diana and Actaeon at Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery until 18 April

Discover the detail of Diana and Callisto with our interactive image map

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