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'Diana and Actaeon' is secured for the nation

Titian, Diana and Actaeon, 1556-1559 © The National Gallery London / The National Galleries of Scotland   

Issued February 2009

The National Galleries of Scotland (NGS) and the National Gallery, London (NGL) are delighted to announce that Titian’s Diana and Actaeon has been acquired for the nation from the Duke of Sutherland. The acquisition has been made possible with the generous contributions from private and public donations, Scottish Government, the National Heritage Memorial Fund, The Monument Trust, The Art Fund charity and NGL and NGS funds.

The painting will be shared by the National Galleries of Scotland and National Gallery, London and will be displayed for five years at each institution in turn. The purchase of Titian’s 'Diana and Actaeon' brings this extraordinary painting into public ownership and we have received assurances that the rest of the Bridgewater Collection will remain on loan to the National Galleries of Scotland for the next 21 years.

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. We are grateful to the Duke of Sutherland for offering the painting at much below its market value and for giving us several years in which to make payments.

John Leighton, Director-General of the National Galleries of Scotland said:

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 and we are delighted that the world-famous Bridgewater Collection will continue to be available on long loan to Scotland. We are hugely grateful to all the individuals and all the funding bodies who responded so warmly and wholeheartedly to this campaign over the past four months.

Dr Nicholas Penny, Director of the National Gallery, London said:

The response to our appeal to buy this great painting has been astonishing. The notes pressed into collecting boxes and the cheques sent to us by the general public, the generosity of individual friends of the gallery and the support given by the trustees of charitable bodies combine to make this a great success story. It testifies to the power of Titian's painting and the conviction that public access to the greatest works of art is of the utmost importance.

Spokesman for the Duke of Sutherland said:

A spokesman for the Duke of Sutherland said the Duke was delighted to have reached agreement for this wonderful work to remain in Britain, on public view. He expressed his great appreciation to the Galleries for their helpful and supportive approach over the past 18 months of complex and painstaking negotiations, and he looked forward to many more years association between his family and the National Galleries of Scotland through the continuing loan of the Bridgewater Collection.

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


Notes to Editors

The Galleries have also been granted the opportunity to buy a second painting - 'Diana and Callisto' - for a similar amount by 2012.

About the Bridgewater Collection

The Bridgewater Collection, currently on view at the National Galleries of Scotland, is the most important private collection of Old Master paintings on loan to an institution in the UK and counts among the most important art collections anywhere in the world. The loan 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.

About 'Diana and Actaeon'

'Diana and Actaeon' 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.

Supporting Comments

Linda Fabiani MSP, Minister for Europe, External Affairs and Culture said “I am delighted to announce that this world-class collection has been saved for Scotland, underlining the prestige of our National Galleries and offering real educational and economic benefits for years to come.

This is a significant investment in Scotland’s future, securing a collection worth many millions of pounds for future generations at a fraction of the market cost. Over 1.5 million people visited the Bridgewater Collection last year, with two thirds of those coming from outside Edinburgh.

The collection is a significant tourist draw with a half day visit to the National Galleries equating to an estimated annual £27 million tourist spend, with the indirect economic impact of this rising to an estimated £50 million a year. The Bridgewater Collection clearly represents significant educational opportunities, allowing the National Galleries to teach with the most famous artists in art history: Titian, Raphael, Rembrandt, Poussin to name a few. This collection is a vital source of artistic excellence and inspiration for research, scholarship and the creative industries. The international interest and support generated around this campaign offers a golden opportunity for our National Galleries to raise its profile and show the world that Scotland will continue to punch above its weight in cultural excellence.”

Jenny Abramsky, Chair of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, said “We're so delighted that generations to come will be able to enjoy this truly extraordinary work of art. Our grant of £10million was a big challenge for us financially, but is exactly what the National Heritage Memorial Fund was set up to do. The generous help of all the partners and the public have ensured the painting is now safe. And because our grant will be made in staggered payments the Fund will continue to be able to help save other heritage treasures.”

David Barrie, Director of The Art Fund said “The Art Fund was the first to put money on the table for Diana and Actaeon – at £1 million our largest donation ever for a single work of art. Since 1903, our members have enabled The Art Fund to keep thousands of great works of art on public display, and none has a more distinguished pedigree than this magnificent painting. We are proud to have played our part in ensuring that it will never now be lost to public view.”

The National Heritage Memorial Fund

The National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) was set up to save the most outstanding parts of our national heritage, in memory of those who have given their lives for the United Kingdom. It currently receives £10million annual grant-in-aid from the government. For more details, please contact Katie Owen or Alison Scott, NHMF Press Office, on (020) 7591 6036/32.

The Monument Trust

The Monument Trust is a charitable foundation established by the late Simon Sainsbury. It supports a wide range of charities in the fields of arts and heritage, health and social care, and criminal justice. For more details, please contact Alan Bookbinder, Director, Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts, on 020 7410 0330

The Art Fund

The Art Fund is the UK’s leading independent art charity. It offers grants to help UK museums and galleries enrich their collections; campaigns on behalf of museums and their visitors; and promotes the enjoyment of art. It is entirely funded from public donations and has 80,000 members. Since 1903 the charity has helped museums and galleries all over the UK secure 860,000 works of art for their collections. For more information contact the Press Office on 020 7225 4888 or visit

The Art Fund is a Registered Charity No. 209174

Press Enquiries

For the National Galleries of Scotland
Patricia Convery – Head of Press
Tel: 0131 624 6325
Erica Bolton, Bolton & Quinn
Tel: 020 7221 5000 (5 lines)

For the National Gallery, London
Tracy Jones/Razeetha Ram - Head of Press
Tel: 020 7747 2839/020 7747 2519
General Press Office number: 020 7747 2865
Email: (please email both)

Background Information

The Bridgewater Collection

The Bridgewater Collection counts among the most important collections of Old Master paintings still in private hands anywhere in the world. Works from the collection have been on public view in Great Britain since the early 19th century and its crucial importance to the UK heritage has long been recognised.

The collection was originally formed by Francis Egerton, the 3rd and last Duke of Bridgewater, known famously as “the Canal Duke”. The core of the Collection was acquired following the dispersal of the renowned Orléans Collection after the French Revolution in 1792. The Canal Duke had no children and on his death his estate passed to descendants of his sister Louisa Egerton, who had married the father of the 1st Duke of Sutherland. The Collection, with substantial English lands owned by the Canal Duke thus passed to the 1st Duke of Sutherland’s youngest son Francis, who took the name Egerton and was created 1st Earl of Ellesmere in 1846.

The Old Master paintings in the Bridgewater Collection were among the first privately owned old master paintings to be made accessible to the public in Britain. Visitors were allowed to see them in a London townhouse on certain days from as early as 1806 and they have been available to the public almost continually ever since.

The collection passed by descent to the late 6th Duke of Sutherland, who, in 1945 placed the most famous works from the Bridgewater collection on loan to the National Galleries of Scotland.

The Bridgewater Loan to the National Galleries of Scotland

The Bridgewater Loan has been on continuous public view in the National Galleries of Scotland since 1945. Today this loan constitutes one of the greatest loans of old master pictures from a private collection to a public museum anywhere in the world. It immeasurably enriches the appeal and status of the National Galleries of Scotland as a centre of cultural excellence. The loan consists of twenty-seven paintings and one drawing by artists such as Raphael, Titian, Poussin and Rembrandt and it attracts visitors from all over the world.

Originally there were 32 Old Master paintings on loan; in 1984 the NGS acquired four paintings from the collection by Private Treaty with an NHMF grant: Lotto (NG 2418), Tintoretto (NG 2419), Dou (NG 2420), Steen (NG 2421); in 2003, the NGS acquired Titian’s Venus Anadyomene, partially in lieu if inheritance tax and with the aid of generous contributions from the Heritage Lottery Fund, The Art Fund charity and the Scottish Executive.

Recognition of the Paramount Importance of the Collection

1922: the UK Government compiled the first ‘Paramount List’ of key masterpieces in private collections which the Treasury agreed it would assist the NGL to buy. It included Titian’s 'Diana and Actaeon'.

1927, 1930: the list was revised, but retained the original inclusions.

1971: the idea of using such a list was revived again and the Standing Commission on Museums and Galleries drew up a new list, including the Titians.

1973: the Commission formally submitted the list to the Prime Minister. The works on it were deemed to be “of such outstanding quality that they should not under any circumstance be allowed to leave the country”. Six works from the Bridgewater collection were on the list including the pair of Dianas by Titian.

2004: Goodison Review, Securing the Best for our Museums, p.12, notes the exceptional nature of the Bridgewater loan.

2007: Apollo Magazine publishes its own ‘Paramount List’ of 25 works, which includes the Bridgewater Titians. “The most important group of privately owned pictures belongs to the Duke of Sutherland, who has lent them to the National Gallery of Scotland. The withdrawal of any of these from the Edinburgh Gallery would be a major loss.”

The Paintings

'Diana and Actaeon'
Oil on canvas, 184.4 x 202.2 cm

'Diana and Callisto'
Oil on canvas, 187 x 204.5 cm

The two paintings have an extremely distinguished provenance. They were both painted for King Philip II of Spain between 1556 and 1559, when Titian was at the height of his powers. They formed part of a series of six large mythological pictures made for the King. The other works in the series are: the Danaë and Venus and Adonis (both The Prado, Madrid), Perseus and Andromeda (Wallace Collection, London) and the Rape of Europa (Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston).

In 1623 the two pictures nearly left Madrid for London. They were to form part of a diplomatic gift to King Charles I because he was planning to marry a Spanish Infanta (princess). However, the marriage did not proceed, and the paintings eventually moved to France in 1704 as a diplomatic gift and then a century later they arrived in Britain in 1798 where they where purchased by the Duke of Bridgewater as part of the famous Orléans sale.

The themes which link the pictures include the loves of the gods and the tragic consequences for mortals who become associated with them. The two works have long been recognised not only as being among Titian’s very finest creations but as supreme masterpieces of Venetian renaissance art. The scale of ambition, the masterful unity of colour and subject matter, the art-historical importance and their excellent condition are all factors that form part of the fame and reputation of these works which could be described as the most important Renaissance pictures still in private hands in any collection.

The Artist

Titian (Tiziano Vecellio)
(Born, about 1485-90 – died, 1576)

Titian was the greatest of all Venetian artists; he built a formidable European reputation during his life, and his status has never diminished. The technical wizardry, narrative skill and psychological insight he brought to his works has ensured they remain among the most highly prized of all Renaissance masterpieces.

He was initially associated with the painter Giorgione, with whom he shared an interest in landscape settings for lyrical, secular and sacred scenes. Artistically Titian reached full maturity with his commission for the altarpiece of the Assumption of the Virgin (The Frari, Venice; completed 1518). He proved himself able to work with remarkable success on a wide variety of different types of projects: portraits, mythological works, allegories, altarpieces etc., and formed connections with the greatest patrons of his age, such as Emperor Charles V (who knighted him in 1533), and the King of Spain, Philip II. He also worked for the leading families of Venice, Mantua, Ferrara, Urbino and Rome.

Recently major exhibitions on the artist have been organised by the NGL and NGS: Titian (NGL) (2003), The Age of Titian (NGS) (2004).

Selected Quotes

"I was staggered when I saw the works… and looked at them with wondering and with longing eyes… A new sense came upon me, a new heaven and a new earth stood before me…"
William Hazlitt, the critic, on seeing the Orléans collection, including the Bridgewater Titians, in London, 1797-98.

"They transport us into a world of visionary reality much more consistent than the world we live in… We are Actaeons ourselves, coming suddenly upon something which astonishes and absorbs our whole attention… In the Actaeon… the poetry has taken on such as profoundly sensuous tinge that it can almost be equated with sex."
Ellis Waterhouse, Former Director of the National Gallery of Scotland, 1960.

"In the Diana and Actaeon the sheer beauty of the drawing and painting of the female nudes is virtually incomparable even in Titian’s own work and in indeed in the entire history of art."
Harold E. Wethey, The Paintings of Titian, London, 1975.

"…when I was staying in the Scottish Borders, I used to drive into Edinburgh almost every day to look at Titian’s two paintings… Since then they’ve been among my absolute favourites… The degree of conviction is so absolute. That’s one of the things that very great paintings have in common… How is it that these paintings, which are as effortless as a Matisse, affect you more than any tragedy? Everything they contain is there for the viewer’s pleasure.

To me, these are simply the most beautiful pictures in the world."
Lucian Freud, interviewed 22 December 2001

"[The] themes may be classical, but as he renders them, Titian is uncompromisingly modern. Indeed Cézannes Bathers, and even Picasso’s Demoiselles d’Avignon, still owe a direct debt to these pictures."
Duncan Macmillan, 22 February 2003

"These two mythologies… rank among the supreme poetic creations of the Italian Renaissance"
Peter Humfrey, Professor of Art History at the University of St Andrews , The Age of Titian, exhibition, NGS, 2004.

List of works currently on loan to NGS


  1. Gerard Ter Borch: 'A Singing Practice'
  2. Dutch School: 'An Old Lady Wearing a Ruff'
  3. Sir Anthony Van Dyck: 'Portrait of a Young Man'
  4. Hobbema: 'Landscape with a View of the Bergkerk, Deventer'
  5. Nicolas Poussin: 'Moses Striking the Rock'
  6. Nicolas Poussin: 'The Sacrament of Baptism'
  7. Nicolas Poussin: 'The Sacrament of Confirmation'
  8. Nicolas Poussin: 'The Sacrament of Marriage'
  9. Nicolas Poussin: 'The Sacrament of Penance'
  10. Nicolas Poussin: 'The Sacrament of Ordination'
  11. Nicolas Poussin: 'The Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist'
  12. Nicolas Poussin: 'The Sacrament of Extreme Unction'
  13. Raphael: 'The Holy Family with a Palm Tree'
  14. Raphael: 'The Bridgewater Madonna'
  15. Raphael and Studio: 'The Madonna del Passeggio'
  16. After Raphael: 'The Madonna with the Veil'
  17. Rembrandt: 'Self-Portrait, aged 51'
  18. Studio of Rembrandt: 'A Young Woman with Flowers in her Hair'
  19. Studio of Rembrandt: 'Hannah and Samuel'
  20. Follower of Rembrandt: 'A Study of a Man’s Head'
  21. Tintoretto: 'Portrait of a Venetian'
  22. Titian: 'The Virgin and Child with St John the Baptist and an unidentified Male Saint'
  23. Titian: 'The Three Ages of Man'
  24. Titian: 'Diana and Actaeon'
  25. Titian: 'Diana and Callisto'
  26. Rubens: 'Mercury bearing Psyche in his arms to Olympus'
  27. Bonifazio Veronese: 'The Madonna and Child with the Infant Baptist, Saint Joseph in the Distance'


 28. Rubens: Frans Rubens

Further Supporting Comments

Susan Rice, Managing Director, Lloyds Banking Group Scotland
“This is wonderful news. Sensible Investment in the quality of our national collections not only brings important educational and cultural opportunities but has significant economic benefits - encouraging tourism and enhancing our image abroad. The world-class reputation of our national galleries and museums is a vital part of our image and also helps to make Scotland more attractive for entrepreneurs and senior executives.”

Alison Watt
“One of the extraordinary consequences of being involved in the campaign to save Diana and Actaeon for the nation, is that I've found myself falling in love with the painting all over again. And now with such overwhelming support, Diana and Actaeon will remain on public view and will continue to inspire us and make us think differently about the world. We've invested in our future.”

Tracy Emin
“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.”

Michael Craig-Martin
“Not only is Titian's Diana and Actaeon one of the world's great paintings, but for many years it has been a key work on permanent free public display at the National Gallery of Scotland. To have lost this painting would have diminished that whole collection. Now that it will be shared between Scotland and the National Gallery in London, the painting will be available to an even larger audience. This has clearly been a situation where the statement 'saved for the Nation' can be seen to mean precisely it says.”

Antony Gormley
“This is great news for Britain and for art. These sumptuous late great works of Titian bring joy and pleasure to all.”

Tom Phillips
“So glad Titian has triumphed over crunch and squeeze.”

Richard Hamilton
“Dear Diana
It is nice to know that you are safe and well. See you soon.
Richard Hamilton”

Howard Hodgkin
“Great news. It is wonderful that such an extraordinary painting has been saved to inspire us all.”

Bridget Riley
“Titian started thinking about colour in a way that no painter before him had and thanks to artists like Monet and Matisse his most important insights are still with us today."

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