About this artwork

While out hunting, Actaeon accidentally discovered the secret bathing place of Diana, goddess of the moon and hunt. Titian explored the dramatic impact of this intrusion through a dynamic arrangement of figures, sparkling light, intense colour and animated brushwork.The stag's skull on the plinth foretells Actaeon's fate, for the outraged goddess transformed him into a stag to be devoured by his own hounds. The picture is one of a series of famous mythological paintings Titian called 'poesie', made for King Phillip II of Spain. The subjects were based on the ancient Roman poet Ovid's Metamorphoses. Titian planned the canvases as pairs, making 'Diana and Callisto' the partner to this work.

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  • title: Diana and Actaeon
  • accession number: NG 2839
  • artist: Titian (Tiziano Vecellio)Italian (about 1485/90 - 1576)
  • depicted: Diana
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Painting
  • subject: Myth Classical literature Animals Nudity Italian Renaissance
  • medium: Oil on canvas
  • date created: 1556 - 1559
  • measurements: 184.50 x 202.20 cm
  • credit line: Purchased jointly by the National Galleries of Scotland and the National Gallery, London, with contributions from The Scottish Government, the National Heritage Memorial Fund, The Monument Trust, the Art Fund (with a contribution from the Wolfson Foundation), Artemis Investment Management Ltd, Binks Trust, Mr Busson on behalf of EIM Group, Dunard Fund, The Fuserna Foundation, Gordon Getty, The Hintze Family Charitable Foundation, J Paul Getty Jnr Charitable Trust, John Dodd, Northwood Charitable Trust, The Rothschild Foundation, Sir Siegmund Warburg’s Voluntary Settlement and through public appeal 2009

Titian (Tiziano Vecellio)

Titian (Tiziano Vecellio)

Titian made a greater impact on European painting than any other artist from Venice. His use of colour and development of a 'painterly' style of lively brush work has influenced generations of artists. He excelled in all types of painting, including altarpieces, religious subjects for private devotion, themes from classical mythology, allegorical works and portraits. The bright clear colours and smooth appearance of his early paintings are quite different from the more dramatic tonal contrasts and broken brushwork of his later work. He received public and private commissions from within Venice and from eminent patrons elsewhere. Titian painted many of his most celebrated pictures for King Philip II of Spain.