Five of Titian’s greatest works, his epic series of large-scale mythological paintings, known as the poesie, together for the first time since 1704.
Painted between about 1550 and 1562 the poesie are among the most original visual interpretations of Classical myth of the early modern era and are touchstone works in the history of European painting for their rich, expressive rendering.
The series was commissioned by Philip II of Spain, who highly unusually gave Titian an open brief to select his subjects. The paintings depict stories from the Roman poet Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Because he considered them visual equivalents to poetry, Titian called them his ‘poesie’. He distilled in them the knowledge of painting and visual storytelling that he had acquired over five decades as an artist to create some of his most profound statements on human passion and irrationality, on love and death.
From the original cycle of six paintings, the exhibition will reunite Danaë (1551–3, The Wellington Collection, Apsley House); Venus and Adonis (1554, Prado, Madrid); and Diana and Callisto (1556-9), jointly owned by the National Gallery and the National Galleries of Scotland; and Rape of Europa (1562) from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, which has not been lent in over a century.
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We are currently working on improving our galleries. During this time some rooms will be closed and some facilities will be temporarily removed. There will be limited disabled access to some areas.
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