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Titian: Love, Desire, Death extended at the National Gallery

Issued May 2020

When COVID-19 forced the doors of the National Gallery to shut on18 March 2020, it meant that the long planned, eagerly anticipated, once in a lifetime exhibition Titian: Love, Desire, Death also had to close after being open for just three days.

Universally acclaimed 'Titian: Love, Desire, Death' brings together the artist’s epic series of large-scale mythological paintings, known as the 'poesie', in its entirety for the first time since the late 16th century.

Today, the National Gallery is delighted to announce that thanks to the generosity of its partners and lenders, the exhibition has been extended in London. 'Titian: Love, Desire, Death' will reopen when the National Gallery does. (It was originally due to close on 14 June 2020).

Details of its tour after London will be announced in due course.

Dr Gabriele Finaldi, Director of the National Gallery, says: ‘I am grateful to the lenders and partners who have enabled us to keep the Titian exhibition open for a longer period. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for visitors to see this group of mythological masterpieces together. It will not happen again.’


Image: Titian, 'Rape of Europa', 1560–2 © Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston (P26e1)

The current lockdown has also led to other changes in the upcoming National Gallery exhibition programme.

Nicolaes Maes: Dutch Master of the Golden Age – the first-ever monographic exhibition devoted to this important pupil of Rembrandt, organised with the Mauritshuis, The Hague – which opened on 22 February (and was due to close on 31 May) has been extended.

Sin – the first exhibition in the UK exploring sin in art, bringing together paintings from across the National Gallery’s collection with modern and contemporary works – was due to open in Room 1 on 15 April (until 5 July). This exhibition has now been relocated to one of the Ground Floor Galleries and will open at a later date.

Conversations with God: Copernicus by Jan Matejko – which was due to open in Room 1 on 29 July (until 15 November) has been rescheduled for 2021.

The Credit Suisse Exhibition: Raphael – which was due to open on 3 October 2020 – has been postponed until 2022.

About 'Titian: Love, Desire, Death'

From the original cycle of six paintings, the exhibition reunites 'Danaë' (about 1551–3, The Wellington Collection, Apsley House, London); 'Venus and Adonis' (about 1553–4, 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 the recently conserved 'The Rape of Europa' (1559–62) from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston.

Following its landmark decision to lend works on a temporary basis for the first time in its 119-year history, the Wallace Collection also lent its painting from the cycle, 'Perseus and Andromeda', (about 1554–6), to the exhibition in Trafalgar Square. 

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, is also displayed in London.

The exhibition is organised by the National Gallery, the National Galleries of Scotland, the Museo Nacional del Prado and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston.   

'Titian: Love, Desire, Death' sponsored by

Supported by

Moretti Fine Art Ltd

The Vaseppi Trust

Andrew Bentley and Fiona Garland

And other donors

The Sunley exhibition programme is supported by the Bernard Sunley Foundation


Image – Titian, 'The Rape of Europa', 1559–62 © Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston

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