Titian masterpiece Diana and Callisto saved for nation

by bbc

Titian's Diana and Callisto has been saved for the nation after a £45m ($71.7m) deal was agreed with owner the Duke of Sutherland.

Diana and Actaeon

Diana and Callisto, by Titian, 1556-1559, Oil on canvas, 188 x 206 cm
Edinburgh, National Gallery of Scotland

The "supremely important" oil painting was bought with the help of £25m ($39.9m) from the National Gallery after a lengthy fundraising campaign.

Along with partners National Galleries of Scotland, they bought sister piece Diana and Actaeon in 2009.

The National Gallery hailed the "exceptional generosity" of donors.

The two pieces will be displayed together on a rotating basis in London and Edinburgh.

Titian's Diana and Actaeon was purchased for £50m ($79.7m). The institutions had originally been given until the end of the year to raise money for the second work.

National Gallery director Nicholas Penny said: "For more than 100 years, these two great paintings by Titian have been regarded as pre-eminent among the masterpieces in private hands in the UK.

"We have been able to secure both of them for the public, in a period of economic hardship, because of the esteem and affection that both institutions have enjoyed for many decades."

Diana and Callisto and Diana and Actaeon were produced in the 1500s by Renaissance artist Titian - full name Tiziano Vecelli - and are considered to be among his greatest works.

They are among six large-scale works, painted for Philip II of Spain, that are inspired by Roman poet Ovid.

£5m reduction

The two institutions said they had decided against launching a public campaign to raise money for Diana and Callisto "during such difficult economic times" but had instead approached individual donors and grant-making trusts.

They said the Duke of Sutherland had offered the two paintings at prices "significantly lower than their market value".

National Gallery trustees allocated £25m from "remaining reserves" - from legacies left to the gallery by members of the public - while the Duke of Sutherland agreed a £5m ($8m) reduction off his original asking price of £50m.

A further £3m ($4.8m) came from the Heritage Lottery Fund, £2m ($3.2m) came from the Art Fund and a further £15m ($23.9m) was from grants from individual donors and trusts.

Diana and Callisto is being displayed in London for 18 months from Thursday.

It will be joined by Diana and Actaeon - currently on a regional tour - in July. Both will then go on display in Scotland.

The paintings form part of the Duke's Bridgewater Collection - featuring works by Raphael, Rembrandt and Poussin - which is on long-term loan to the National Galleries of Scotland.

2012-03-01 13:06:44