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Diana and Actaeon

Photo credit: The National Gallery, London

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While out hunting, Actaeon accidentally stumbles upon the secret bathing place of Diana, chaste goddess of the hunt, and sees her naked. His fate is foretold by the stag’s skull on the plinth and the skins of Diana’s former prey hanging above her head. The conclusion of the story is shown in another painting by Titian in the National Gallery, The Death of Actaeon. The outraged goddess transforms Actaeon into a stag to be torn apart by his own hounds. The paintings were part of a famous series of mythological pictures made for King Philip II of Spain when Titian was at the height of his powers. Works of unprecedented beauty and inventiveness, their subjects were based on the Roman poet Ovid’s Metamorphoses – Titian himself referred to them as ‘poesie’ (poems).

The National Gallery, London

London

Title

Diana and Actaeon

Date

1556-1559

Medium

Oil on canvas

Measurements

H 184.5 x W 202.2 cm

Accession number

NG6611

Acquisition method

Bought jointly by the National Gallery and National Galleries of Scotland with contributions from the Scottish Government, the National Heritage Memorial Fund, The Monument Trust, The Art Fund (with a contribution from the Wolfson Foundation) and through public appeal, 2009

Work type

Painting

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The National Gallery, London

Trafalgar Square, London, Greater London WC2N 5DN England

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