The Death of Actaeon

Image credit: The National Gallery, London

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The story of Actaeon is told in the Metamorphoses by the Roman poet Ovid. In Titian’s earlier Diana surprised by Actaeon, painted for King Philip II of Spain in 1556–9 and now jointly owned by the National Gallery and the National Galleries of Scotland, Actaeon disturbs the goddess Diana and her nymphs at a secret bathing place. Although never delivered to Philip, The Death of Actaeon is clearly its sequel: Actaeon flees and, stopping to drink at a stream, discovers from his reflection that Diana has turned him into a stag. Titian shows Actaeon in the process of transformation. At Diana’s order he is torn to death by his own hounds. The subject is rare in Italian art and Titian may never have seen another painting of it. While conceived around 1559, The Death of Actaeon was mostly painted when Titian was in his mid-eighties.

The National Gallery, London



The Death of Actaeon


about 1559-75


Oil on canvas


H 178.8 x W 197.8 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Bought with a special grant and contributions from The Art Fund, The Pilgrim Trust and through public appeal, 1972

Work type



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