There’s a certain thrill in seeing something you know wasn’t intended for your eyes. That’s part of the draw of the Minneapolis Institute of Art’s latest exhibit, Titian and the Golden Age of Venetian Painting. Originally painted by Titian during the peak of his powers in the 16th century, Diana and Actaeon and Diana and Callisto—two of the pieces in the collection of works by Titian, Veronese, Tintorettoof, and other Renaissance Venetian artists—were not meant for the public eye. They were painted specifically for the most powerful monarch of the time, Spain’s King Phillip II.
After bouncing from the Duc d’Orleans collection in France to the Bridgewater Collection in London to the National Gallery of Scotland over the past few centuries, the masterpieces find themselves once again in flux. The present Duke of Sutherland (the owner of the Titians) told the National Galleries of Scotland a few years ago that he intended to sell the pieces—unless the gallery could chalk up about $80 million for them. In order to raise the funds, the National Galleries of Scotland and London teamed up. They bought Diana and Actaeon in 2009 and have until 2012 to raise the money for Diana and Callisto.
Which brings us to today: The United States tour of the artwork is part of the campaign to buy the painting. The exhibit, which opened at the MIA over the weekend, not only gives us a chance to revel in the beauty of the greatest Renaissance paintings ever created, but to help ensure that others get the chance to do the same in the years to come by keeping them in the public domain.
Sunday, February 6–Sunday, May 1, 2011
$8 (free for members)
Before you go: Check out Gregory Scott’s story from this month’s Minnesota Monthly issue, Decoding Titian.