Diana and Actaeon
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Diana and Actaeon 1556 - 1559

On Display Scottish National Gallery

While out hunting, Actaeon accidentally discovered the secret bathing place of Diana, goddess of the moon and hunt. Titian explored the dramatic impact of this intrusion through a dynamic arrangement of figures, sparkling light, intense colour and animated brushwork.The stag's skull on the plinth foretells Actaeon's fate, for the outraged goddess transformed him into a stag to be devoured by his own hounds. The picture is one of a series of famous mythological paintings Titian called 'poesie', made for King Phillip II of Spain. The subjects were based on the ancient Roman poet Ovid's Metamorphoses. Titian planned the canvases as pairs, making 'Diana and Callisto' the partner to this work.

Glossary Open

Mythological

Refers to figures and events from myths which are the ancient stories that usually explain the origins of historical or natural phenomena.

Ovid's Metamorphoses

A poem in fifteen books by the Roman poet, Ovid, which tells the story of the creation and history of the world according to Greek and Roman mythology.

Poesie

A term, meaning 'poetry', used by Titian for paintings of mythological subjects derived from literary sources. He painted a series of these for King Philip II of Spain with subject matter taken from Ovid's Metamorphoses.

Mythological, Ovid's Metamorphoses, Poesie

Details

  • Acc. No. NG 2839
  • Medium Oil on canvas
  • Size 184.50 x 202.20 cm (framed: 237.50 x 262.10 x 16.9 cm)
  • Credit Purchased jointly by the National Galleries of Scotland and the National Gallery, London, with contributions from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Art Fund (with a contribution from the Wolfson Foundation), The Monument Trust an