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Diana and Callisto 1556 - 1559

Not on display

The pregnancy of Callisto, an attendant nymph of Diana, goddess of the moon, hunting and chastity, is cruelly revealed. Banished by Diana, Callisto was later transformed by Jupiter her seducer, into the constellation of the Great Bear. The powerful gestures and varied poses of Diana and her nymphs complement those in the composition of the companion painting Diana and Actaeon. These large so-called 'poesie' reveal Titian's mastery of the idealised human figure and of colour and light to convey contrasting textures. As late works, they also indicate the remarkable physical energy he expended using his fingers as much as his brushes to apply paint.

Glossary Open


The arrangement of different elements in a work of art.


The representation of something as a model of perfection.


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.

Composition, Idealisation, Poesie


  • Acc. No. NG 2844
  • Medium Oil on canvas
  • Size 187.00 x 204.50 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, J Paul Getty Jnr Charitable Trust, Mr and Mrs James Kirkman, Sarah and David Kowitz, Chris Rokos, The Rothschild Foundation, Sir Siegmund Warburg’s Voluntary Settlement and through private appeal and bequests 2012