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

Pieter van der Heyden (c. 1530- after 1585)

Queen Elizabeth I as Diana and Pope Gregory XIII as Callisto

Power and Propaganda

King Philip II’s reign was dominated by religious struggles. His own eagerness to revitalize Catholicism in England through his marriage to Queen Mary had faltered due to her early death. With Queen Elizabeth I now on the English throne, the Protestant Dutch sought her support in their quarrels with Philip, and the two countries were also united in their anti-Catholic view of the Pope as the Antichrist. The tensions across Europe were humorously captured in a print by the Dutch engraver Pieter van der Heyden. Using Titian’s Diana and Callisto as a model, the Pope appears in the role of the fallen Callisto, while Queen Elizabeth stands in as the all-powerful Diana accompanied by the ‘nymphs’ of the Dutch Provinces. Sporting Callisto’s swollen stomach, the Pope sits on a ‘nest’ of ruinous eggs, symbolising destruction and corruption. Ironically, the composition of Philip’s painting has been used to ridicule his faith.

 

  • Location British Museum
© Trustees of the British Museum
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  • © Trustees of the British Museum

Additional Information

Titian’s Diana and Callisto was less than thirty years old at the time this print was made. Pieter van der Heyden is likely to have known Titian’s composition through Cornelius Cort’s print, and clearly saw how effective the arrangement of the figures was in conveying the sense of divine judgement and supremacy.