Bridgewater Titians

Philip II, King of Spain (1527-1598)Philip II, King of Spain (1527-1598) Perseus & AndromedaPerseus & Andromeda Queen Elizabeth I as Diana and Pope Gregory XIII as CallistoQueen Elizabeth I as Diana and Pope Gregory XIII as Callisto Charles I, 1600 - 1649. Reigned 1625 - 1649Charles I, 1600 - 1649. Reigned 1625 - 1649 Diana and Callisto, by Peter Paul Rubens, after TitianDiana and Callisto, by Peter Paul Rubens, after Titian Philippe, Duke of Orléans, 1674 - 1723. Regent of FrancePhilippe, Duke of Orléans, 1674 - 1723. Regent of France Bridgewater House Gallery, 1900Bridgewater House Gallery, 1900 Titians at the National Gallery of ScotlandTitians at the National Gallery of Scotland Girl Holding Her FootGirl Holding Her Foot SabineSabine

after Titian

Philip II, King of Spain (1527-1598)

King Philip II of Spain, after Titian

In 1550-51, Titian seemingly made an agreement with the young crown prince Philip of Spain to create a series of large mythological paintings, that were loosely based on the loves of the Olympian gods and the consequences for any mortals who encountered them. Over the next decade Titian sent six paintings to Philip, of which Diana and Actaeon and Diana and Callisto were the last to be delivered. Both paintings were completed by 1559, but in the years since he had struck his deal with Titian, Philip’s life had changed dramatically. He had married Queen Mary I of England in 1554, thus becoming King Consort of England. The marriage was short lived as Mary died in 1558 and Mary’s throne then passed to Elizabeth I. Meanwhile, Philip had come to the throne of Spain in 1556. Despite the changes in his life, Philip had lost none of his youthful eagerness to own examples of Titian’s beautiful nudes.

  • Location National Portrait Gallery, London
Image courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery
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  • Image courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery

Additional Information

In June 1559, Philip received a letter from Titian announcing that ‘I have finished the two poesie intended for Your Majesty, one of Diana surprised by Actaeon at the fountain, another of Callisto’s weakness exposed by two nymphs at Diana’s bidding’. Titian was by then in his seventies, yet the paintings are arresting for their innovative handling and attitude.