City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

National Galleries Buy Titian's Diana and Callisto For £45m

By edg - Posted on 02 March 2012

Titian's Callisto and Diana

The National Galleries of Scotland (NGS) and the National Gallery in London made a surprise announcement today that Titian’s masterpiece Diana and Callisto has been acquired for the public.

The acquisition, which follows the purchase of its companion painting Diana and Actaeon in 2009, will ensure that the two celebrated works by Titian will remain together on public display in either London or Edinburgh.

It also means that the famous Bridgewater Collection - which now consists of 25 paintings and a drawing by Old Masters – will remain intact on long-term loan at the NGS. The Bridgewater Collection, which is owned by the Duke of Sutherland, has been on continuous public view since 1945.

Diana and Callisto and Diana and Actaeon have been in the UK for more than 200 years. The Scottish government helped fund the purchase of Diana and Actaeon in 2009, but said there was no further public money for the second Titian, fuelling fears that it would be sold to a foreign buyer, breaking up the pair.

The celebrated works have been together since they were painted between 1556 and 1559 as part of a cycle of works for Philip II of Spain. They are considered a highpoint in Italian Renaissance art.

The paintings left Titian’s studio together and have only changed hands three times since then (from the Spanish Royal Collection to the Orléans collection, and then to the Bridgewater Collection at the end of the eighteenth century). The acquisition of Diana and Callisto means that the pair can remain together in Britain for the enjoyment of the public in perpetuity.

Titian deal

The two paintings were offered by the Duke of Sutherland, to NGS and National Gallery in London on what has been called "very generous terms at prices significantly lower than their market value."

Having raised £50 million in 2009 to acquire Diana and Actaeon, the Galleries were given until December 2012 to find a similar amount for Diana and Callisto. To meet this, the Trustees of the National Gallery in London made the unprecedented decision to allocate a significant proportion of their remaining reserves to this acquisition. This sum of £25m principally represents bequests left by members of the public over many years and held by the Gallery for future picture purchases.

The two institutions gained pledges of support from individuals and grant-making trusts with exceptional charitable grants being offered by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the Art Fund and The Monument Trust.

To assist the Galleries in meeting the funding target, the Duke of Sutherland and his family agreed to a further reduction of the asking price to £45m.

By agreement with all parties a new, earlier deadline was established of the end of March 2012. The generous reduction in price, together with the commitment of the National Gallery in London’s reserves, gave both Galleries a strong basis from which to fundraise.

As a result of the joint acquisition, Diana and Callisto will be shared by both institutions and displayed together with Diana and Actaeon on a 60:40 rotating basis in London and Edinburgh, meaning that the public will have access to both works together. This allocation reflects the fact that a larger proportion of the funding for Diana and Callisto has come from the National Gallery in London.

Diana and Callisto will be on display from today in London for 18 months (to be joined by Diana and Actaeon on its return from a regional tour in July), and then on display in Scotland for 12 months.

Following this, both paintings will be shown together in London for three years and in Scotland for two years. They will then settle into a display cycle of six years in London and four years in Scotland.

John Leighton, Director-General of the National Galleries of Scotland, said, “It has long been an absolute priority for the National Galleries of Scotland to retain the world-famous Bridgewater loan in this country and to keep these superlative masterpieces on view for the enjoyment and inspiration of our visitors We are delighted that the purchase of Callisto will now keep that loan intact and allows the public to continue to enjoy some of the greatest achievements of Western European art. We are hugely grateful to the HLF, the Art Fund and to all the trusts and individuals who have helped to make this possible.”

Breakdown of funding for Diana and Callisto:

  • £5 million reduction in the asking price by the Duke of Sutherland
  • £3 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund
  • £2 million from the Art Fund (with an additional £75,000 for a digital public engagement programme)
  • £15 million donations and grants from individual donors and trusts including The Monument Trust, The Rothschild Foundation, Chris Rokos, Sir Siegmund Warburg’s Voluntary Settlement, the J. Paul Getty Jnr Charitable Trust, James and Clare Kirkman, Sarah and David Kowitz, Patrons of the National Galleries of Scotland, and others who prefer to remain anonymous
  • £25 million from the National Gallery charitable reserves, principally from legacies left by the public to the NGL over many years

The Art Fund is further supporting both Galleries in the development and implementation of an innovative digital public engagement programme to help appreciate and understand Titian and his paintings.