February 2, 2009 / 10:28 AM / 9 years ago

London gallery saves one key Titian, one to go

EDINBURGH (Reuters) - The National Galleries of Scotland and London’s National Gallery said on Monday they had raised the 50 million pounds ($71 million) needed to save a key work by Renaissance master Titian before it was put up for sale.

<p>Director General of London's National Gallery, Dr Nicholas Penny (L) and Director-General of the National Galleries of Scotland, John Leighton pose for photographers in front of Titian's "Diana and Actaeon" during a news conference in the National Gallery of Scotland, in Edinburgh, Scotland February 2, 2009. The National Galleries of Scotland and London's National Gallery said on Monday they had raised the 50 million pounds ($71 million) needed to save a key work by Renaissance master Titian before it was put up for sale. REUTERS/David Moir</p>

The campaign to save the painting has drawn criticism from politicians who said the money, some of which came from government funds, could have been spent more wisely during a deepening recession.

“Diana and Actaeon,” belonging to the Duke of Sutherland, was offered at what experts said was a reduced price for a seminal work, although the owner benefits from significant tax breaks because it has been acquired by the nation.

The galleries now have until 2012 to gather the funds to buy a related painting, “Diana and Callisto,” for the same amount of money.

Of the 50 million raised for Diana and Actaeon, the Scottish government pledged 12.5 million pounds, 7.4 million came from public donations, 12.5 million from National Galleries in London and another 10 million pounds came from the National Heritage Memorial Fund.

The deadline for the sale was December 31, 2008, but it was extended.

The National Gallery in London has called the two Titians “the greatest Renaissance pictures left in private hands.”

In 2002, Peter Paul Rubens’ “The Massacre of the Innocents” fetched 49.5 million pounds in an auction record for an old master painting.

Titian’s grand canvases, painted between 1556 and 1559, were part of a series of six mythology paintings produced for King Philip II of Spain.

The Titians are part of the Bridgewater collection, which has been on loan to the National Galleries of Scotland since 1945 and includes works by Raphael and Rembrandt.

The galleries have been assured that the loan will now extend to 2030.

Reporting by Ian Mackenzie and Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato

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