Titian masterpieces reunited for first time in U.S. at Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston

Thanks to an unprecedented loan from the Wallace Collection, Titian’s Rape of Europa (Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum) will be reunited with its pendant Perseus and Andromeda for the first time in the United States. The London-based Wallace Collection, one of the UK’s premier national museums, has never before lent a work of art to an American institution.

The inaugural transatlantic loan forms part of the international travelling exhibition Titian: Women, Myth & Power (Aug. 12, 2021 to Jan. 2, 2022), bringing together the epic series of mythological paintings known as the poesie, or “painted poems”, for the first time in five centuries. The Gardner is the sole American venue, following stops in London and Madrid.

“I am delighted to help the Gardner Museum make this historic event possible with our inaugural loan to the United States and to reunite Titian’s legendary poesie. Working in partnership with research institutions, nationally and internationally, in order to contribute to important art-historical projects, sits at the heart of the Wallace Collection’s strategic plan.” said Xavier Bray, Director of the Wallace Collection.

Following a recent landmark decision, the museum is now able to loan works of art on a temporary basis for the first time in its 120-year history.

“We are profoundly grateful to the Wallace Collection for making it possible to reunite Titian’s complete series of thematically linked, mythological subjects and to give our visitors the opportunity to see all six paintings together for the first time in over four hundred years” said Peggy Fogelman, Norma Jean Calderwood Director of the Gardner Museum.

Titian masterpieces come to Boston

The collaboratively organized exhibition reunites the Gardner’s Europa and the Wallace Collection’s Perseus and Andromeda with Danaë, (The Wellington Collection, Apsley House); Venus and Adonis (Museo del Prado, Madrid); and Diana and Actaeon and Diana and Callistotwo paintings jointly owned by the National Gallery, London and National Galleries of Scotland.

Commissioned by King Philip II of Spain and painted between 1551 and 1562, Titian’s poesie consist of six monumental paintings of mythological stories inspired by the ancient Roman poet Ovid’s Metamorphoses. In 1896,Isabella Stewart Gardner acquired the final painting in the series, The Rape of Europa. It depicts the legendary foundation story of Europe—the abduction and rape of Europa by Jupiter, who has taken the guise of a bull. Europa is the only one of Titian’s poesie in America and represents the artist at the height of his creative powers.

Titian (Italian, 1488-1576), Rape of Europa, 1562. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston
Titian (Italian, 1488-1576), Rape of Europa, 1562. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston

“Titian’s Europa is the most important Renaissance painting in the United States and we are thrilled to reunite it with its pendant Perseus and Andromeda. This exhibition will offer a unique opportunity for our visitors to see all six poesie together,” said Nathaniel Silver, William and Lia Poorvu Curator of the Collection.

Titian: Women, Myth, & Power was jointly organized by the National Gallery, London, the National Galleries of Scotland, the Museo del Prado and the Gardner. It debuted in London in March but remained open for only three days before closure forced by the global pandemic. In London, the exhibition is extended until Jan. 17, 2021, then moves to the Prado in Madrid (Mar. 3, 2021 to Jul. 5, 2021) and concludes at the Gardner Museum (Aug. 12, 2021 to Jan. 2, 2022.)

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