NPR’s Fresh Air explains why two Titian works that are touring the US together are so exceptional:
In the 1550s, King Philip II of Spain commissioned Titian to paint a series of large canvases based on mythological subjects. The king seems to have had a healthy libido, and Titian had his number; the two canvases are crowded with some of Titian’s most voluptuous nudes. And now that I’ve seen them, I can testify that even more than with most paintings, reproductions do these no justice.
They are radiant — luminous with rich reds and golds, pearl and creamy flesh tones. And they’re extraordinarily moving, even scary. InDiana and Actaeon, the painting on the left in the exhibit — and the curators are pretty sure this is how they were intended to be hung — the young hunter Actaeon has stumbled upon the goddess Diana bathing at a fountain with her nymphs. He’s at least as startled and as terrified as they are. Diana gives him a bone-chilling look. She’s about to turn him into a stag, and the big, eager dogs that are his hunting companions will soon turn on him and tear him to pieces.
Two Titian Masterpieces Touring the US (NPR/Fresh Air)