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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 26 February, 2003, 16:03 GMT
Titian bought for nation
The Venus Anadyomene
The Venus painting is 500 years old
A masterpiece by the Italian painter Titian has been bought for the nation for 11.6m.

The Venus Anadyomene has been acquired by the National Galleries of Scotland (NGS), with the help of lottery funding.

The Renaissance piece, depicting Venus emerging from the sea, is one of the most celebrated images of female beauty in Western art, according to experts.

It is one of 26 pictures which have been on loan to the Edinburgh galleries from the Duke of Sutherland's collection.

But the death of the last Duke two-and-a-half years ago put the collection in jeopardy as his family considered selling the paintings to cover death duties.

This work is one of the great icons of western art
Brian Ivory
The 500-year-old Venus Anadyomene was one of five Titian paintings in the Duke of Sutherland's private art collection.

Along with works by Poussin, Raphael and Rembrant, they have been on loan to the National Galleries in Edinburgh since 1945.

The 11.6m funding was raised by the galleries, the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Scottish Executive and the National Art Collections Fund.

Part of the price was also offset by the Treasury in tax duties, meaning the new Duke and his family no longer need to sell of the rest of the collection.

They insist it will remain on loan to the National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh for the foreseeable future.

The Venus Anadyomene
Completed by Titian in 1520-25
Part of a collection belonging to the Duke of Sutherland
On loan to the National Galleries in Edinburgh since 1945
Market value estimated at around 20m
Acquired for 11.6m, 7.7m from the Heritage Lottery Fund
Liz Forgan, chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said the decision to make the award had been a "narrow squeak", but said the NGS had given an assurance to make the piece accessible to "the widest number of people in the widest number of ways".

Brian Ivory, chairman of the NGS Board of Trustees, said: "This work is one of the great icons of western art and it's the first work by Titian to be acquired here for the national collection, where it will form part of the core of our early Renaissance collection."

NGS director general Sir Timothy Clifford described the Venus as "a very sexy lady", saying he was "very grateful" for the lottery assistance.

"Titian's Venuses were seen to be arousing in the 16th century, and they were remarked upon as being arousing objects at the time, and she is a very alluring lady indeed," he added.

It is expected to form the centrepiece of a major Venetian Renaissance exhibition in the newly refurbished Royal Scottish Academy building in the summer of 2004.

The NGS also plans to display the piece as part of a touring exhibition focusing on the depiction of female beauty across different cultures.

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