Titian: Love, Desire, Death; National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN; Until January 2021; £12
Celebrate the National Gallery reopening its doors with a visit to the Titian: Love, Death, Desire exhibition.
Titian’s sensuous interpretation of Classical myths of love, temptation, and punishment In 1551, Prince Philip of Spain, the future King Philip II, commissioned Titian, the most famous painter in Europe, to produce a group of paintings showing Classical myths primarily taken from the Roman poet Ovid’s ‘Metamorphoses’.
The exhibition reunites all six paintings in the series, from Boston, Madrid, and London, for the first time in over four centuries. Included are ‘Diana and Actaeon’ and ‘Diana and Callisto’; works we own jointly with the National Galleries of Scotland.
Combining Titian’s remarkable talent as both artist and storyteller, the mythological scenes capture moments of high drama; a fatal encounter, the shameful discovery, a hasty abduction. Titian expertly manipulates paint and colour to dazzling effect; capturing luminous flesh, sumptuous fabrics, water, reflection, and atmospheric, almost enchanted, landscapes.
We see gods and goddesses, yet their faces show very human, and very relatable, emotions: guilt, surprise, shame, desperation, and regret.
Titian called these works his ‘poesie’ because he considered them to be visual equivalents of poetry.
This is a rare opportunity to enjoy some of the greatest paintings in European art. Exhibition organised by the National Gallery, the National Galleries of Scotland, the Museo Nacional del Prado, and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston.
For more information and to book head over to www.nationalgallery.org.uk/exhibitions/titian-love-desire-death
Nicolaes Maes: Dutch Master of the Golden Age; National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN; Until 20 September 2020; Free
Share a knowing look with mischievous eavesdroppers and peer behind the doors of 17th-century Dutch households… From illicit goings-on in servants’ quarters to portraits of high society, Nicolaes Maes captured life upstairs and downstairs in the Dutch Golden Age.
Starting his career as one of Rembrandt’s most talented pupils, this exhibition – the first in the UK devoted to Maes – charts the artist’s rise to fame. Through nearly 50 paintings and drawings, it follows Maes’s move away from paintings of historical and biblical scenes, where Rembrandt’s influence is most clear, to the scenes of everyday life and portraits that made him one of the most sought-after artists of his time.
Maes was an astute businessman, and produced over 900 portraits, adapting his style to reflect the high fashion and decoration of the second half of the 17th century. But it is his ‘genre’ scenes – which often feature the central character eavesdropping and breaking the fourth wall to interact directly with the viewer – which best reveal Maes’s inventive and distinct style.