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Titian: Behind Closed Doors

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Broadcaster:  BBC

A unique look at Titian's greatest masterpieces, which are currently under quarantine in the National Gallery.


In the 1550s Philip II of Spain commissioned the Venetian painter Titian to create a sequence of six paintings. Given a completely free hand to choose his own subject matter for what he would call his ‘poesie’, Titian’s six paintings are credited as the greatest series of paintings in art history.


These Renaissance masterpieces are not tame reliquaries. They’re instead surprisingly erotic paintings that craft a monumental beauty out of the fleeting power of lust. And their themes of love, death, passion, violence, rape and jealousy still speak powerfully to us today. The film brings together a range of modern voices - contemporary artists, #MeToo commentators, experts on sexual violence, models and muses as well as curators and art critics - to explore how the themes within Titian’s extraordinary poesie paintings – sexual violence in art on one hand and the metamorphic power of transformation on the other – play out in Titian’s work, and how those themes should be read today.

But no sooner has the National Gallery, London pulled off this seemingly impossible exhibition than Titian’s master works are once again denied the public gaze. Amid the pandemic that is sweeping the globe, gallery director Gabriele Finaldi has taken the unprecedented step of closing gallery doors, uncertain as to when or if the pictures can ever be seen together again. BBC cameras access the exhibition for one time only in order bring this groundbreaking exhibition to screens across the world.

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