How many Titians does one nation need? You can never have enough, claimed the director of the National Gallery after raiding his reserves to add one more masterpiece to the collection for a £45m fee. But while reuniting Diana and Callisto with its £50m companion Diana and Actaeon has delighted the National Gallery, the belief that every great work must be "saved for the nation" is being tested by the straightened economic climate.
The National Gallery has admitted that its reserves are now severely depleted after raiding its coffers to keep one of the greatest works by the Italian Renaissance painter in public ownership. Diana and Actaeon was purchased after a public appeal three years ago.
The 16th-century Titians will be shared between the London gallery and the National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh after the Duke of Sutherland, who offered both works to the nation, agreed to knock £5m off the Callisto. The Scottish Government, which gave £12.5m to the Actaeon appeal, declined to contribute.