Picture in Focus: Titian's 'Diana and Actaeon'

The National Gallery is inviting secondary schools across the UK to explore Titian’s 'Diana and Actaeon' (1556–9) as a catalyst for creative learning across the curriculum.

Picture in Focus – Titian’s ‘Diana and Actaeon’

Project-based learning at its best – an excellent opportunity for cross-curricular collaboration.

When the National Galleries of London and Scotland jointly acquired Titian’s masterpiece in 2009, the ground-breaking secondary schools project Picture in Focus was born.

Picture in Focus was piloted as a Key Stage 3 initiative in 2009–10 by 10 London secondary schools and the response from pupils, teachers and senior managers was overwhelmingly positive.

Subjects as wide ranging as English, Geography, P.E., Art, Science and Food Technology collaborated to achieve outstanding results in response to Titian’s painting. The project allowed teachers to be dynamic in their planning and students experienced ownership, engagement and depth of learning as they made meaningful connections across subjects through the painting.

Some of the main reasons to get involved in Picture in Focus:

  • It provides a perfect vehicle for developing both creative and critical thinking across subject areas
  • The project is flexible: successful pilot models ranged from 1-day to a week to 10 weeks
  • It enables pupils to make meaningful connections within and between subjects resulting in greater engagement and deeper learning
  • It is ideal for use as part of your professional development
  • Picture in Focus is tried, tested and overwhelmingly supported by pupils and staff in all 10 pilot schools

The painting

Painted between 1556 and 1559, Diana and Actaeon shows part of a mythological story taken from the Roman poet Ovid’s 'Metamorphoses'. While out hunting, Actaeon accidentally happens upon the secret bathing place of Diana, chaste goddess of the hunt.

In another painting by Titian at the National Gallery, London, the conclusion to the story is depicted – the outraged goddess immediately avenges herself by transforming Actaeon into a stag to be devoured by his own hounds.

How to get involved

In 2011 the National Gallery is offering all schools the opportunity to get involved, either as a whole school, Key Stage, transition or year group initiative.


New Picture in Focus section on the National Gallery website. Visit the website in May and start planning for Picture in Focus at your school: 

  • Get details of CPD events
  • Download resources and e-learning material related to Titian’s 'Diana and Actaeon'

June – December

Take up CPD opportunities at the National Gallery. Take part in Picture in Focus teachers’ days and twilight talks supported by the National Gallery Trust (Booking from January 2011)

'Diana and Actaeon' on display September–December

Bring your pupils to the National Gallery for an interactive session led by an experienced Gallery educator. Pupil workshops can be arranged from May 2011 for the autumn term.

July 2012
Submit pupils’ work for selection for the online exhibition (launched December 2012).

“It brings out the best in the teachers; it brings out the best in the pupils.”
Teacher, Ibstock Place School

Get involved in Picture in Focus and initiate a life-long relationship with one of the country’s leading cultural institutions for your pupils.

Titian: 'Diana and Actaeon'