Spotlight on Titian

Spotlight on Titian

There’s just a month left to secure additional funding to keep two world-renowned Titian paintings in Scotland, as Anna Millar reports

Hopes were revived earlier this month that Edinburgh’s national galleries may be able to acquire Titian’s Diana and Actaeon. The piece, which has resided in the National Galleries of Scotland for more than 60 years, courtesy of their owner the Duke of Sutherland, is currently under threat of being sold.

Art experts say it is imperative for the galleries to step in and stop the works going on the open market at the end of December. Earlier this month a £10m grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund brought the national galleries of England and Scotland a step closer to acquiring the £50m painting.

Should the galleries manage to acquire the piece, it would come with an offer to buy its sister painting, Diana and Callisto, and, more importantly according to some, remove the threat of the galleries losing 27 old masters on loan in Edinburgh from the dukes of Sutherland since 1945.

The Fund’s chair said she hoped others would follow suit: ‘We have moved quickly to show our support and hope this persuades others to dig deep to make this dream a reality.’

The latest funding boost follows a campaign by Tracy Emin and over 40 of the world’s leading artists to recognise the importance of the work, as well as a petition being delivered to Downing Street. Emin said of the campaign: ‘It will be really embarrassing if the government doesn’t buy them and they are bought by some Russian oligarch and never seen again. If they don’t buy these, how many other paintings will they allow to be lost to the nation?’

Nicholas Penny, director of the National Gallery in London, said he was ‘very optimistic’, and reported pledges and donations currently amounted to £20m.

Hopes are high among the art community that additional funding will come from both the UK and Scottish governments but a decision is yet to be made.

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