Home » Exhibitions » Exhibition Review – Titian: Love Desire Death at the National Gallery from 16 March to 14 June 2020

Exhibition Review – Titian: Love Desire Death at the National Gallery from 16 March to 14 June 2020

© 2020 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Titian’s epic series of large-scale mythological paintings, known as the poesie, are brought together in its entirety for the first time since the late 16th century at the National Gallery. The series was painted between about 1551 and 1562 and are considered some of the most original visual interpretations of Classical myth for their rich, expressive and colourful rendition.

© 2020 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

From the original cycle of six paintings, the exhibition reunites 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 the recently conserved Rape of Europa (1562) from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston.

© 2020 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

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

© 2020 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The National Gallery’s Death of Actaeon (1559–75), originally conceived as part of the series, but only executed much later and never delivered, is also displayed.

© 2020 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

All the paintings illustrate Titian’s remarkable talent to create a narrative in which mythological scenes contain a whole range of very human emotions like love, desire, guilt, surprise, shame, desperation, anguish, and terror. The paintings depict stories primarily drawn from the Roman poet Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Because Titian considered the paintings similar to poetry, he called them his ‘poesie’. The series was commissioned by Philip II of Spain and consolidated Titian’s reputation as one of the most famous painters of his period.

© 2020 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Titian’s six poesie for Philip II of Spain have had an incredible history, two remained in Madrid, Spain: Danaë and Venus and Adonis. Danaë remained longer, but was taken by Joseph Bonaparte in 1813 and seized by Wellington in the Battle of Vitoria, after which it came to England. Venus and Adonis was also in England, as Titian sent it to Philip when he was in London, having just married Mary Tudor (1516–58). The other four, Perseus and Andromeda, Rape of Europa, Diana and Callisto, and Diana and Actaeon, plus the unfinished The Death of Actaeon, passed by different routes into the collection of Philippe II, Duc d’Orléans (1674–1723). When this collection was auctioned in London in 1798, the five poesie were divided but remained in British collections throughout the 19th century. Perseus and Andromeda was unsold at the first sale, and then changed hands before being sold at the second Duc d’Orléans sale in 1805.

© 2020 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

In 1896 Rape of Europa was sold to Isabella Stewart Gardner for her collection in Boston, USA. Perseus and Andromeda was secured for Britain the following year as part of the Wallace Collection bequest. In 1972, when The Death of Actaeon was offered for sale, the National Gallery successfully purchased the painting with the help of government funds and following a nationwide public appeal. In 2009, the National Gallery and the National Galleries of Scotland jointly acquired Diana and Actaeon; and in 2012, Diana and Callisto, securing the last two of these masterpieces for the public.

© 2020 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

This remarkable exhibition is a once in a lifetime opportunity to view in one room, Titian’s six poesie for Philip II of Spain painted in the mid 16th century. That all six paintings have survived the vagaries of war, destruction and political turmoil over four centuries is a miracle in itself and the small intimate exhibition provides a wonderful opportunity to study the paintings in some detail. Titian is one of those rare artists who was not only famous in his own time but has retained his reputation over the centuries, this exhibition illustrates why he is considered one of the most important artists in the history of European painting.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information and tickets, visit the National Gallery website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in 2014, we attract thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website here

 


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Follow me on Twitter

Archives

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

%d bloggers like this: