Titian masterpiece Diana and Callisto saved for nation

Titian's Diana and Callisto was owned by the Duke of Sutherland

Titian's Diana and Callisto was owned by the Duke of Sutherland

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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.

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 also saved sister piece Diana and Actaeon in 2009.

Both galleries 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 three years ago 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 Dr 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.

Antony Gormley: "I think he taught Rubens how to dance. He was the Fred Astaire of painting."

"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."

The BBC's arts editor Will Gompertz said seeing the paintings split up "after nearly half a millennium of being together would have been a huge loss in terms of art history and the British public's ability to enjoy these two great paintings".

He added: "For the UK's national galleries to have seen Diana and Callisto leave the country would be like Italy waving goodbye to Michelangelo's David."

The companion pieces were produced in the 1500s by the Renaissance artist and are considered to be among his greatest works.

£5m reduction

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

Diana and Callisto depicts a nymph, impregnated by the god Jupiter, being expelled by the goddess.


For most people - journalists included - the news that the National Galleries in London and Edinburgh had secured a second Titian painting for the nation came as something of a surprise.

Raising a second £50m in the current climate was never going to be easy, and there were many who felt the fundraisers had exhausted their usual sources - the Scottish Government were among those who made it clear they wouldn't make any further contributions.

But by trawling reserve funds, and exploring legacies and bequests, the galleries have been able to raise the bulk of the cost. A mere £5m from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Art Fund - and a similar sized discount by the owner - meant the prize was in sight before the 31 March deadline.

The purchase has even more significance for the National Galleries of Scotland because it safeguards the Bridgewater Loan - a collection of works by Raphael, Titian, Rembrandt and Poussin - which is also owned by the Duke of Sutherland and has been on display in Edinburgh since 1945.

It may be a quiet celebration in the current climate but it's a significant achievement for both galleries.

The two Titian paintings form part of the Duke of Sutherland's Bridgewater Collection - featuring works by Raphael, Rembrandt and Poussin - which has been on loan to the National Galleries of Scotland since 1945.

The galleries said the Duke had offered the two paintings at prices "significantly lower than their market value" - estimated to be around a half to a third of what they would be worth on the open market.

National Gallery trustees allocated £25m from its charitable reserves, principally gained from legacies left by members of the public over the past century.

The rest of the money came from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Art Fund and individual donors and trusts.

Unlike the public appeal the galleries launched to save Diana and Actaeon, the two galleries said they decided against asking for a government grant or public help to raise money for the second painting "during such difficult economic times".

"We have used these reserves before, but never on this scale, and no purchase ever made by the National Gallery has begun to approach the magnitude of this acquisition," Dr Penny said.

He added that the gallery had "very little" of its £32m reserve left for future acquisitions - as much of the remainder has been bequeathed for specific uses, such as education.

Dr Penny said he anticipated being asked why a UK national gallery was spending such large sums to acquire works by a foreign painter.

"If you lined up [British artists] Gainsborough, Turner and Constable, not only would they feel that this was a very great day but they would also admit they would not have been the artists they were had it not been for Titian.


Asking price - £50m

  • £25m from National Gallery charitable reserves
  • £15m donations and grants from individual donors and trusts
  • £3m from Heritage Lottery Fund
  • £2m from Art Fund
  • £5m reduction in asking price by Duke of Sutherland

Total raised - £45m

"We do have quite a few [works by Titian]. But that to me is a question rather similar to, 'there is one play by Shakespeare, do you really need any other ones?'"

John Leighton, director-general of the National Galleries of Scotland, said the risk that the money might not have been raised and the painting would be sold overseas was "a very real one".

"For us in Scotland this has always been about a battle to hold on to what I would describe as our triple AAA status as a great art collection and one of the great European art galleries," he said.

"From today these great paintings belong to the British public and we could not be more thrilled that they will be available for the enjoyment, the education, and the inspiration for generations to come," he added.

Diana and Callisto will be 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 show in Scotland and be the centrepiece of a special display in Edinburgh to coincide with the 2014 Commonwealth Games.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 102.

    I'm confused at the use of the word 'saved' in the article. Was the building that they were housed in on fire? or was the owner going to get rid of them if he couldn't sell them?

  • rate this

    Comment number 101.

    This particular painting and the rest of the collection were bequeathed to the Gower family in 1798. Seven generations on, and it was still in the family's possession.
    Do these works of art escape the ravages of inheritance tax, or is the earl so fabulously wealthy that he can pay the exchequer from his own purse?

  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    I really don’t understand the myopic & illogical comments. The price paid will always be divisive and subjective issue, but value do we place on being inspired by something beautiful?

    Also what about the income that will be generated onwards from tourism, I doubt the people posting here have been to the Gallery (which is largely free), trust me the number of tourists on a week day is sizable.

  • rate this

    Comment number 99.

    There are art galleries around the world where art is on loan for public view. These galleries are available online, as are university and museum libraries too.

    Many cannot afford to travel, pay entrance fees or are too ill to travel via the usual tours. Of course there is nothing like the real thing - nature is art too - what a pity the RSPB and Natural England are dictating where we can walk?

  • rate this

    Comment number 98.

    It baffles me to no end the comments here that are borne out of the wild assumption that these paintings were purchased with tax payers money. Maybe some of it came from the lottery (stupidity tax) but this 'investment' was financed by the very people that intend to enjoy it. I bet if Titian was a glittery continental striker your local football team just signed you'd be happier than a pig in mud.

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    I like Titian, but I prefer to see him in his native land with his other works of art.!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    Titian was not british, the subject is not british, why on earth should it not be sold abroad, like the churchill papers nod doubt plenty will find its way to a certian war chest.

  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    Sorry still don't see any tax payers money......people CHOOSE to play the lottery and CHOOSE gift aid!!!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    The family of the Duke of Sutherland were responsible for some of the worst HIghland Claerances in the 1800's. He should have been made to hand the painting over for nothing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    I'd have let this go. If it's not by a British artist, how can it be part of our nation's 'heritage'. All this does is keep a load of intellectual snobs happy. The money would have been far better spent elsewhere.

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    russellh: So Wrong! Artists make up an important demographic segment of advanced society -- I mean serious, committed, intelligent ones of all disciplines, not goof-offs. The great artistic treasures of the past are an eternal source of inspiration, a benchmark for others who then create new & sometimes also precious work. Just as in science, the Arts build on a Patrimony. Art = Wealth of Nations!

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    I can't help feeling that the money could've been better spent nurturing future Titians - especially in light of the cutting of youth arts projects, but hey ho, so long as the painting can be stored somewhere for pretentious intellectuals to sip claret over then all's usual with the world.

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.

    Excellent. Glad to see it being retained for the nation

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    #85. Ray

    "I'm reminded of the efforts that African nations put into reclaiming their culture from western museums. What a shame some here have no value for our cultural identity"

    I agree we should send the Italians there culture home too, for... lets say £55m

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    The Duke offered both Titans to the nation for a combined £100 million in 2008; the market value was estimated at £300 million. The collection of the Duke's paintings is on long term loan to the National Gallery of Scotland since 1945 and is considered to be the most important private collection of old masters on loan in the world; the remaining pictures are valued at one billion pounds.

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.

    HooHum : "Still it is a nice bit of painting if I had one a tenth of the value I'd be happy."
    I had a discussion with someone the other day about how insensed I was about the MD of my firm recieving a salary in excess of £2m while people are being laid off all over the place - he just said I was 'jealous' and I should seek a job with more income if it upset me. Talk about missing the point.

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    Colossal waste of money.

    I'm sure that His Grace isn't short of a bob or two, so why didn't he give it to the nation?

    I suppose we should be thankful that the paintaings are actually 'art' not some splodges of sick on canvas such as that by Pollock, Picasso, Chagall, et al

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    Yeah, it's a mind boggling sum, but it's difficult to put a price on the works that help to define our human cultures. It's far better to grossly overvalue than grossly undervalue them, as it shows we still cherish our culture.

    I'm reminded of the efforts that African nations put into reclaiming their culture from western museums. What a shame some here have no value for our cultural identity

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    Saved for the nation!! A painting by an Italian (Venetian) featuring a Roman God. Woudn't it be more appropriate if had been sold or repatriated to Italy?

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    @62 leftrightleft.

    I can read just fine thank you. You on the other hand may need glasses.

    ‘A further £3m ($4.8m) came from the Heritage Lottery Fund.’

    Not to mention the 'gift aid' on all donations that comes from direct taxation.

    Still it is a nice bit of painting if I had one a tenth of the value I'd be happy.


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