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History of Titian masterpieces coming to High Museum


Titian's "Diana and Callisto" shows the story of a nymph's expulsion from Diana's court. The painting will make its U.S. debut at the High in October.

I posted last week about Titian masterpieces that will make their United States at the High Museum of Art in October, and one reader asked for the stories of what’s happening in the paintings, “Diana and Actaeon” and “Diana and Callisto.”

Well, well, here’s a great multimedia history of the paintings and how they came to the National Galleries of Scotland.

If you’re just looking for the key details, know that in 1550, Titian made a deal with the crown prince Philip of Spain to create paintings based on “the loves of the Olympian gods and the consequences for any mortals who encountered them.” Among the six paintings, “Diana and Actaeon” and “Diana and Callisto” were the last two.

So explains the tour:

The literary source for both the Bridgewater paintings is the Roman poet Ovid’s Metamorphoses, a poem in fifteen books which tells the story of the creation and history of the world according to Greek and Roman mythology. In the story of Diana and Actaeon (Metamorphoses, III: 138-253), Ovid tells of the young huntsman Actaeon who mistakenly stumbles upon the goddess Diana and her nymphs as they bathe. Furious at the intrusion, Diana transforms Actaeon into a stag, to be hunted and killed by his own hounds. The Diana and Callisto (Metamorphoses, II: 401-503) shows Diana inflicting a cruel fate on Callisto. As one of Diana’s nymphs Callisto was sworn to remain chaste, however Jupiter disguised himself as Diana and seduced her. On discovering Callisto’s subsequent pregnancy, she was expelled from Diana’s company forever.

Here’s more about the mythology of Diana and Actaeon and Diana and Callisto.

Want to go? “Titian and the Golden Age of Venetian Painting: Masterpieces from the National Galleries of Scotland” runs October 16, 2010-Jan. 2, 2011. $18, $15 for people 65 and older and students, $11 for ages 6-17, free for members and children 5 and younger. High Museum of Art, 1280 Peachtree St., Atlanta. 404-733-4444,

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One comment Add your comment

melissa's mom

March 4th, 2010
12:36 pm

Wow! Those Greek gods were a crazy bunch! I guess Actaeon got what he deserved. He shouldn’t have “accidently stumbled upon Diana and her nymphs bathing”! Fascinating! Thanks for the update.