This work is one of the most celebrated and admired paintings in the European tradition and has influenced the work of generations of high-profile artists, from Velázquez and Rubens to Turner and Constable down to Lucian Freud.

Callisto was the favourite of Diana, staunch defender of chastity. She was wary of men, but her great beauty proved to be her undoing. She was seduced by the lusty Jupiter who assumed the guise of the nymph’s mistress Diana in order to gain her confidence. Diana and her band of nymphs, weary after hunting, entered a dark wood with a stream running through it. They undressed to bathe, all that is except for Callisto, who was then stripped off her garment to reveal her swollen belly, and immediately banished from Diana’s company. This work was jointly acquired by the National Galleries of Scotland and the National Gallery, London with assistance from the Wolfson Foundation. It is a companion piece to Titian's Diana and Actaeon acquired by the National Gallery and National Galleries Scotland with Art Fund help in 2009.

Provenance

Painted for Philip II, King of Spain; Philip V; Antoine, 4th Duc de Gramont, 1704; Philippe, 2nd Duc d’Orléans, c.1706; Louis-Philippe-Joseph, Duc d’Orléans (Philippe Égalité); Édouard Walckiers, 1792; Fran&ccedi


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