City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Art World Celebrates £50 million Acquisition of Titian’s Diana and Actaeon


By edg - Posted on 03 February 2009

National Galleries of Scotland

The National Galleries of Scotland (NGS) and the National Gallery, London (NGL) are celebrating  the £50 million acquisition of Titian's Diana and Actaeon from the Duke of Sutherland. 

The galleries announced yesterday that the acquisition had been made possible with contributions from private and public donations, the Scottish Government, the National Heritage Memorial Fund, The Monument Trust, The Art Fund charity and NGL and NGS funds.

"We are absolutely thrilled that one of the most important paintings in the world will be added to the national collections for the enjoyment and inspiration of the public," said John Leighton, Director-General of the National Galleries of Scotland.

Supporting comments poured in from the art world. Leading Scottish artist John Bellany said, "I am so delighted that this great, great masterpiece has been secured. It will inspire the nation and people will come from all over the world to see it."

Tracy Emin said it was "fantastic that even in such difficult times Britain can stand high in regard to culture. The Titians are here to stay, not just for me and you, but for ever for the future."

About the painting

Diana and Actaeon, a 184.4x202.2cm oil on canvas, is one of six large-scale mythologies inspired by the Roman poet Ovid that Titian painted for King Philip II of Spain (Titian's great portrait of whom featured in the recent Renaissance Faces exhibition at the NGL).

Titian began the picture and its companion Diana and Callisto in 1556, the year of Philip's coronation. Spurred on by the prestige of royal patronage, he unleashed all his creativity to produce works of unprecedented beauty and inventiveness.

Titian worked for three years to perfect these masterpieces, which were shipped to Spain in 1559. He claimed their lengthy genesis was due to the relentless pains he took to make sumptuous works of art worthy of the king.

Bridgewater Collection on loan

Titian's Diana and Actaeon will be shared by the National Galleries of Scotland and National Gallery, London and will be displayed for 5 years at each institution in turn.

The rest of the collection of Old Masters known as the Bridgewater Collection has been loaned to the National Galleries of Scotland for the next 21 years.

The Bridgewater Collection, currently on view at the National
Galleries of Scotland, includes masterpieces by artists such as Raphael (3), Titian (4),
Rembrandt (1) and Poussin (8).

The pictures have been on continuous
public view in the National Gallery of Scotland since the collection
was placed there in 1945 by the then 5th Earl of Ellesmere, later 6th
Duke of Sutherland. It forms the core of the National Gallery of
Scotland's world-famous displays of European art.

The National Galleries of Scotland and the National Gallery, London, formed a partnership in August 2008 to raise £50 million to acquire Diana and Actaeon by 31 December 2008.

In a release the Galleries say that the £50 million price tag is significantly below the painting's market value.

Breakdown of funding

  • £7.4 million in donations and pledges from individuals trusts and the general public, of which £150,000 was donated via The Art Fund. (The amount raised from the general public in response to leaflets, direct mail, collection boxes, sales of badges and the media is circa £400,000).
  • £2 million from The Monument Trust
  • £1 million from The Art Fund
  • £10 million from the National Heritage Memorial Fund
  • £12.5 million Scottish Government Special purchase grant
  • £12.5 million from NGL, comprising £11.5 from bequests, general donations and investment income from these sources and £1 million Grant-in-Aid
  • £4.6 million from NGS purchase funds, trust funds and reserves

Admission to the National Galleries of Scotland Complex is free.