I was asked at the weekend how it was that Titian’s poesie, mostly painted for Philip II, are now so widely distributed in collections around the world.
The Danaë in Apsley House I assumed correctly was part of Wellington’s loot after the Battle of Vittoria, which he was allowed to keep by Ferdinand VII.
Diana and Actaeon and Diana and Callisto were nearly given to Charles I when he visited the Spanish court in 1623, and were subsequently presented by Philip V to the French Ambassador in 1704. They soon became the property of the Duc d’Orléans and were acquired after the French Revolution at the Orléans sale in 1793 by the Duke of Bridgewater. Exhibited at Bridgewater House up to the Second World War and in the National Galleries of Scotland thereafter, they were acquired jointly by the two National Galleries from the Duke of Sutherland in 2009 and 2012 respectively (the National Gallery website oddly does not record this fact as part of their provenance).
Perseus and Andromeda was bought and sold over and over until acquired by Francis Conway-Seymour, later 3rd. Marques of Hertford who was one of the founders of the Wallace Collection.
The Rape of Europa was also sold as part of the Orléans collection and acquired by the Earl of Berwick, who exhibited it in his gallery in Attingham, and then by Lord Darnley for Cobham Hall, whence it was sold in the 1890s, when the National Gallery was short of funds, to Isabella Stewart Gardner for £20,000 with Bernard Berenson acting as agent.
The Death of Actaeon was acquired from Titian’s studio by the Duke of Hamilton who was executed in 1649. It then went by way of the Archduke Leopold William to the collection of Queen Christina in Rome till 1721 when it was acquired – surprise, surprise – by the Duc d’Orléans. After the sale of the Orléans Collection, it was acquired by Sir Abraham Hume, who wrote a book about Titian, and then by descent to Lord Brownlow, who offered it to the National Gallery in 1914 for £5,000. The trustees turned it down. In 1971, it was sold by Lord Harewood for 1.6 million guineas, which the National Gallery managed to raise by public appeal after it had been offered to the J.Paul Getty Museum.
Sorry, it’s a bit of a long answer and I can now see why the National Gallery might not want to spell out the convolutions of their former ownership.