The National Gallery 2020 spring exhibition

Issued May 2019

TITIAN: LOVE DESIRE DEATH

16 March – 14 June 2020
Main Floor Galleries
Admission charge

Five of Titian’s greatest works, his epic series of large-scale mythological paintings, the 'poesie', will be brought together for the first time since 1704 at the National Gallery next March.

 Titian, 'Rape of Europa', 1562 © Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston

Titian, 'Rape of Europa', 1562 © Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston

Painted between about 1551 and 1562 the 'poesie' are among the most original visual interpretations of Classical myth of the early modern era and are touchstone works in the history of European painting for their rich, expressive rendering.

The series was commissioned by Philip II of Spain, who highly unusually gave Titian an open brief to select his subjects. The paintings depict stories from Classical mythology, primarily drawn from the Roman poet Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Because he considered them visual equivalents to poetry, Titian called them his ‘poesie’. He distilled in them the knowledge of painting and visual storytelling that he had acquired over five decades as an artist to create some of his most profound statements on human passion and irrationality, on love and death.

From the original cycle of six paintings, the exhibition will reunite 'Danaë' (1551–3, The Wellington Collection, Apsley House); 'Venus and Adonis' (1554, Prado, Madrid); Diana and Actaeon (1556–9) and Diana and Callisto, (1556–9) jointly owned by the National Gallery and the National Galleries of Scotland; and 'Rape of Europa' (1562) from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston.

The National Gallery’s own Death of Actaeon (1559–75), originally conceived as part of the series, but only executed much later and never delivered, will also be included in London.

Following the London exhibition, the 'poesie' will travel to the Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh, the Prado, Madrid, and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston.

Exhibition organised by the National Gallery, the National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh (11 July – 27 September 2020), the Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid (20 October 2020 – 10 January 2021), and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston (11 February – 9 May 2021). 

Exhibition organised by the National Gallery, the National Galleries of Scotland, the Museo Nacional del Prado, and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston

The Sunley exhibition programme is supported by The Bernard Sunley Foundation

NOTES TO EDITORS

IMAGE

Titian, 'Rape of Europa', 1562 © Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston

PRESS ENQUIRIES

National Gallery Press Office on 020 7747 2865 or email press@ng-london.org.uk

Publicity images can be obtained from https://press.nationalgallery.org.uk/