Thursday, 1 March 2012

Titian masterpiece Diana and Callisto saved for nation...

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 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.

"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 millenium 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.

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

£5m reduction

The two institutions said they had decided against launching a public campaign to raise money for Diana and Callisto "during such difficult economic times" but had instead approached individual donors and grant-making trusts.

They said the Duke of Sutherland had offered the two paintings at prices "significantly lower than their market value".

National Gallery trustees allocated £25m from "remaining reserves" - from legacies left to the gallery by members of the public - while the Duke of Sutherland agreed a £5m ($8m) reduction off his original asking price of £50m.

A further £3m ($4.8m) came from the Heritage Lottery Fund, £2m ($3.2m) came from the Art Fund and a further £15m ($23.9m) was from grants from individual donors and trusts.

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 display in Scotland.

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

Source: BBC

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