Metamorphosis: Poems Inspired by Titian

Rate this


Patience Agbabi, Simon Armitage, Wendy Cope, Carol Ann Duffy, Lavinia Greenlaw, Tony Harrison, Seamus Heaney, Frances Leviston, Sinéad Morrissey, Don Paterson, Christopher Reid, Jo Shapcott, George Szirtes, Hugo Williams.


Nicholas Penny is Director of the National Gallery, London. He was previously Senior Curator of Sculpture at the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.

Published to accompany the exhibition Metamorphosis: Titian 2012 at the National Gallery, London,11 July–23 September 2012.

As part of a unique collaboration between the National Gallery and the Royal Opera House, fourteen leading poets were invited to respond to three great masterpieces by the Renaissance painter, Titian: Diana and Callisto, Diana and Actaeon and The Death of Actaeon.

Titian’s paintings were inspired by Ovid’s Metamorphoses – stories of transformation – and depict the fatal consequences of a mortal tragically caught up in the affairs of the gods. Titian would have known Ovid’s poem from a contemporary translation in Italian. This book’s introduction by Nicholas Penny, Ovid, Titian, and English Poetry, shows how Titian incorporated specific elements from Ovid’s verses in his paintings, and compares some of the most famous translations in English.

The late Lucian Freud described Diana and Callisto and Diana and Actaeon as ‘simply the most beautiful pictures in the world’. These new poems, each illustrated with full colour details from Titian’s paintings, demonstrate the quality and range of writing in Britain today, and show how Old Master paintings continue to inspire living artists.

View spreads of this book (1.2 MB PDF)


"The pleasure of Metamorphosis is that it repeatedly achieves sparkling independence without detachment from the source, even in the face of painting that is, by Titian’s lights, already poetry."
Martin Herbert, Daily Telegraph Saturday Review, 30 June 2012


"Lovely illustrated anthology"
Bookseller, 11 May 2012

Product Information

Product Code 1034100
ISBN 9781857095470
contributor Nicholas Penny
colour illustrations 21
format Paperback
pages 56
published June 2012
publisher National Gallery Company
Dimensions 210 X 148 mm

Customer Reviews (0)

This product hasn't been reviewed yet.