Titian masterpiece to stay in Scotland after £45m deal

THEY once seemed destined for an overseas buyer. But now – in a £45 million deal after a “silent” campaign – a second Renaissance masterpiece has been secured for the nation.

Titian’s Diana and Callisto has been bought from the Duke of Sutherland by the National Galleries of Scotland (NGS) and the National Gallery of London.

The painting and its companion piece, Diana and Actaeon, which was acquired in 2009, will be shared between the NGS and London.

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They will go on display north of the Border in September 2013 for a year encompassing the 2014 Commonwealth Games being held in Glasgow.

Both works, completed between 1556 and 1559, have been in the UK for more than 200 years.

They were painted as part of a cycle of works for King Philip II of Spain and represent a highpoint in Italian Renaissance art.

The pair left Titian’s studio together and have only changed hands three times – from the Spanish Royal Collection to the Orléans collection, and then to the Bridgewater Collection, now owned by the Duke of Sutherland, at the end of the 18th century.

The Duke of Sutherland originally set an asking price of £50m for the painting but then agreed to lower it by £5m.

The National Gallery pledged £25m from their remaining reserve with the remainder coming from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Art Fund, the Monument Trust and individual donors and trusts and patrons of the NGS.

NGS director general John Leighton said the second Titian had been acquired by a “silent campaign”.

He said: “For the first painting we used a classic fundraising campaign involving making a lot of noise and getting people on board.

“But compared with the first time, donors were feeling the pinch. There were moments when success was far from assured. The second time round we worked with a relatively small number of donors and organisations.

“We didn’t think it was appropriate to wave collection boxes so we would sit down in Scotland, London and abroad and have quiet conversations with people about what we were trying to do and why. It was important to do this away from the public eye. Negative publicity could have put people off.”

The Duke of Sutherland said he was “delighted” the two Titian masterpieces would remain together.

He said: “I congratulate the two galleries on their success in securing these works and I would like to express my gratitude for their helpful and supportive approach.”

Fiona Hyslop, MSP, cabinet secretary for culture and external affairs, said: “It is great for Scotland, our cultural collections and our economy.”