MIA scores a major coup and snags some Titians

“The Virgin and Child with St John the Baptist and an Unidentified Saint” by Titian (All images courtesy Minneapolis Institute of Arts.)

The Minneapolis Institute of Arts’ Patrick Noon is not one given to hyperbole, but it’s clear he’s very pleased by the exhibit he’s bringing to Minneapolis

“This is a very special show,” he told me. “Because of the quality of the pictures and the importance of these in the history of western art.”

The show is called “Titian and the Golden Age of Venetian Painting: Masterpieces from the National Galleries of Scotland” will be on view February 5, 2011, through May 1, 2011.

It contains paintings and drawings from several major major Renaissance painters, but Noon says Titian is the star. Tiziano Vecellio to give him is full name was highly sought by the crowned heads of Europe to paint work for their palaces. Two of the works in the show, scenes from the goddess Diana’s life were commissioned by King Phillip II of Spain.

Diana and Callisto” by Titian

“They are simply astonishingly beautiful and well preserved,” says Noon.”His use of color is brilliant, stunning brushwork. These are the things artists look to emulate, especially the Romantic painters in the 19th century.”

The pictures have an interesting history. After centuries in private hands, Diana and Callisto, painted in 1556 – 1559 and Diana and Actaeon painted around the same time were given as a long term loan to the National Galleries of Scotland in 1945.

Two years ago the NGS, together with the National Gallery of London, were offered the works. Together they raised the money to buy Diana and Actaeon over a period of five months. They are now raising the funds for Diana and Callisto.

Patrick Noon is blunt when he talks about their importance. “These are the finest works by Titian outside Italy and Spain.”

The exhibit also includes works by Tintoretto, Veronese,Bassano, and Lotto.

“The Virgin and Child with Saints Jerome, Peter, Francis and an Unidentified Female Saint,” painted by Lorenzo Lotto about 1505

When asked if this is a big feather in the MIA’s cap Noon admits a show like this doesn’t come about without a lot of work. But he thinks it’s worth it.

“I think people will really enjoy seeing them,” he says. “These are really beautiful things.”

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