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 122.

    How many Nectar points for 45m

  • rate this

    Comment number 121.

    I don't have problems with works of art being bought for the national collections. They will be housed in galleries where they can be best appreciated by people who can see them free of charge. I would rather the money was spent on that than some politician's bonkers scheme of the week. The disappointment here is that the money goes to a descendant of the instigator of the highland clearances.

  • rate this

    Comment number 120.

    Generous bloke this Duke. I'll bet he's not paying 50% tax on the proceeds.

  • rate this

    Comment number 119.

    Now here's an idea! Let's forget about the Secessionists, Symbolists, Futurists and other art movements we don't have many of and get another one of those dull but frightfully expensive chubby nude paintings that bore school parties to tears but drive our sensitive art curators into a wild frenzy of self adoration. Oooh! And let's give a rich chap a massive tax break too!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 118.

    £45m for a picuture? I don't get the supremely important bit - after all if you wanted to study the picture why is the digital reproduction not sufficient? That said if someone wants to spend their money this way then that's their look out.
    Hopefully though any public funding for this will be offset by the capital gains tax the Lord will have to pay??

  • Comment number 117.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 116.

    "I really don’t understand the myopic & illogical comments....but (what) value do we place on being inspired by something beautiful?"

    I've been inspired by something beautiful half a dozen times today, most of them whilst walking the dogs this foggy morning. Each of them was a unique and life-affirming event - none of them are "worth £45m" to anyone yet priceless to me. This is a painting.

  • rate this

    Comment number 115.

    So, what this boils down to is that there is more state subsidy to minor nobility.

    It is hard to express my contempt for such a move without ranting, swearing or resorting to the obscene.

    Yes, its an important art work, but would it not be far more relevant to spend this same amount of money to dramatically improve the life of more than one family?

  • rate this

    Comment number 114.


    Eh? stay on topic please.

  • rate this

    Comment number 113.

    yes it's Quality Art, but nether the less its only material. now the duke has a huge some of credit to convert to real pieces of eight. lol

  • rate this

    Comment number 112.

    I am sorry but this painting is not saved for the nation it is for people who like this kind of art and want to see it? Sorry but if the duke of Wherever is a bit strapped for cash then by all means sell your stuff just like the rest of us at the moment is the rest of his stuff going to be"saved for us" as well? don't bother please don't bother I would rather see money spent wisely please!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 111.


    @ 98. MichealReasonsWell

    'I bet if Titian was a glittery continental striker your local football team just signed you'd be happier than a pig in mud.'

    Lol. I like the comment. So damned true
    Would be appreciated by a lot more people. Profit made back quicker (shirt/ticket sales, prize money) and no public money (lottery/art fund) would have been used either.

  • rate this

    Comment number 110.

    How much tax will he pay on the 45m? If it's less than the higher rate tax band he should top it up to that amount to help plug the many gaps in the NHS that the ToryDems are creating.

  • rate this

    Comment number 109.

    a woman has been arrested over the phone hacking scandal (by appointment of course) so that it would coincide with the yeats of the yard inquiry inteview, a good time to bury deflect news for the police !

  • rate this

    Comment number 108.

    20. leftrightleftright
    No public money spent and we now have a £45m asset can't see anything wrong with that...

    No public money? Absolute rubbish. I can guarantee that most of the organisations which gave grants and contributions towards the purchase, will receive large amounts of public funds every year.

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.

    45 million for a painting by a foreign artist, painted abroad with no real connection to the UK.
    The finders of the Staffordshire hoard got that valued at 3 million.
    Guess they were not Lords or went to the right school.

  • rate this

    Comment number 106.


    Ok I concede the first.

    However the gift aid is taking money from the 'tax pot'

    Gift Aid is an easy way to help your charity or CASC maximise the value of its donations, as you can reclaim tax from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) on its 'gross' equivalent - its value before tax was deducted at the basic rate.

    So someone somewhere loses.

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    Re - TheFool83

    Is this a beautiful painting? Looks like a load of odd shaped people in funny poses to me. All art has its time and I think this one has past it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 104.

    @ 98. MichealReasonsWell

    'I bet if Titian was a glittery continental striker your local football team just signed you'd be happier than a pig in mud.'

    Lol. I like the comment. So damned true.

  • rate this

    Comment number 103.

    Blah blah blah.... english aristocracy at its most poigant, "we own everything, but we give to the masses whenever it suits us, and our bank balance ! .... one has to be seen to being to do his bit for charity ! ... while making a profit !!!! .... if ever there was a time for a split and devolitionf for the scots, the irish and the welsh .nows the time, power to the people.. as lennon said !


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